Google Friend Connect aims to help site operators create bridges between users and their friends.
Following key data portability announcements from MySpace and
Facebook, Google May 12 introduced a service that helps Web site owners
add social features for their visitors without having to do any
Google Friend Connect
lets site operators add a snippet of code to their Web sites to add
user registration, invitations, member galleries, message posting and
reviews, features that are increasingly becoming the norm rather than
the exception online.
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The news comes as industry experts claim that socialization
tools will drive more traffic to Web sites, keeping visitors to
consumer sites engaged and sticking to the site longer than they would
normally. Increased user stickiness boosts the probability that those
users will click on ads, adding more pennies to the piggy bank for
Google, Yahoo, Microsoft or whoever a site's chosen ad partner is.
Sites leveraging Friend Connect will let users see who is online and
invite them. Moreover-and here is Google's data portability entr??Â«e-site
owners will be able to use secure APIs to create a bridge between their
sites and other social networks, including Facebook, Google Talk, hi5,
orkut and Plaxo.
Google provided an example of how this works in statement.
Independent musician Ingrid Michaelson has added music features from
iLike with Google Friend Connect to run the iLike OpenSocial
application on her official Web site
Michaelson fans who visit her site will be able to see comments by
friends from their social networks, add music to their profiles, or
even see who is attending concerts, ostensibly making her Web site a
mini walled garden for creating communities of Michaelson fans.
Google said Friend Connect has been developed to lower two barriers to the spread of social features across the Web.
"Many Web site owners want to add features that enable their
visitors to do things with their friends, but the technology and
resource hurdles have been too high," the company said. "Second, people
are tiring of needing to create new logins and profiles and recreate
their friends lists wherever they go on the Web. Google Friend Connect
offers a solution to both these issues."
Google and other vendors believe Industry experts won't argue with
the barriers Google noted, which is why MySpace May 8 and Facebook May
9 announced their own data portability initiatives.
With Data Availability
MySpace said it would let users begin moving files, photos and other
information stored on MySpace to participating sites Yahoo, eBay,
Photobucket and Twitter in the coming weeks.
will allow users to sync their Facebook profile securely with any partner Web site, though there are no partners yet.
The initiative from MySpace and Facebook are different in that they
are geared to empowering consumers by opening up their walled gardens.
Google's Friend Connect widgets put the powers in the hands of the site
operators. Either way, users could be well served by these initiatives,
provided the three enabling companies don't get in each others'-and
ultimately the consumers'-way.
Google did not specify in the release whether it is supporting OpenID or OAUTH authentication standards, but Search Engine Land's
Greg Sterling reported that Friend Connect leverages OpenID.
Google Friend Connect will be available May 12 in a preview release
on a handful of white-listed Web sites after Google's Campfire One
event at its Mountain View, Calif., campus.