OpenSocial Coming to Google Apps This Year
OK, one final post on my meeting with Google Enterprise Product Manager Rishi Chandra at Enterprise 2.0 this week.
I asked the obvious question: What's next for Google Apps this year? Usually the answer I get is the stock, we're going to work hard at building out our portfolio, enriching our services and adding new customers.
Chandra surprised me by being a bit more specific. He said Google will look to make Gmail, Docs and Calendar more business ready by sprinkling OpenSocial across those products.
That's right. OpenSocial, the largely consumer-oriented API set designed to part walled gardens by allowing Web sites to share personal profiles and other content, is coming to Google Apps.
"What you're going to see this year is some implementations of that within our core products like Gmail, Calendar, like Docs," Chandra said. "There is a great opportunity in the enterprise space to apply consumer tech in the enterprise. You could make the argument that it makes more sense to have all of these social tools inside an enterprise than in the consumer space."
Now, I'm not sure about that. Facebook, Twitter, et al, make perfect sense to me as a consumer. I don't really do a whole lot of business networking on either. LinkedIn, perhaps, but not other sites designed for fun interaction.
But Chandra explained that the enterprise is all dispersed, with various experts of knowledge. How do you connect with these people, Chandra asked?
He believes OpenSocial will be one way to do this on Google Apps, but allowed that Google will have to work hard to reassure business users about security, reliability and control.
To that end, I asked if Google would make a version of Friend Connect, the service Facebook banned for privacy reasons, available for Google Apps. Chandra declined to discuss specific implementations, but it's unlikely that would be the case. Friend Connect opens up doors of communication between public Web sites.
Instead, I expect Google will create some OpenSocial widgets that add more personal touches to Gmail, Docs and Calendar. Think personal profiles, perhaps some discussion, news feeds or discussion groups. Look, Enterprise 2.0 was chock full of companies looking to add the social status to business apps.
IBM is doing a nice job of this with Lotus Connections and Microsoft is totally socializing SharePoint by integrating with partners. It makes total sense that Google would follow their leads, albeit taking a different route to get there.