What's Beyond Google OpenSocial?

By Clint Boulton  |  Posted 2007-11-01 Print this article Print


Now that we've all had time to digest the fact that Google today is launching APIs to let programmers whip up applications for several networking sites, let's consider what's next.

We can talk about how many food-fighting applications users are going to write for Orkut, LinkedIn, Hi5.com and the others in the OpenSocial network. We can extrapolate the many ways Google is going to blend OpenSocial with its various applications. But that would all be hit-or-miss speculation. This is fine; it just doesn't interest me.

What I found interesting after speaking with Google product manager Joe Kraus about OpenSocial yesterday, is that the company, while basking in the glow of supposedly out-opening Facebook, is already talking about what's beyond this programming platform. 

After making the Web more social with OpenSocial, Kraus said the long-term vision is to "be able to take your friends anywhere you go."

"Imagine how much better Craigslist would be if you were there [on the site] and you could not only see all of the listings on Craigslist but filter it down by the listings that your friends, and friends of friends, have posted," Kraus said. "It's about taking a non-social site and making it social without Craigslist having to be its own social network."

In the example, Kraus is talking about breaking down the siloed approach of Craigslist listings, allowing users to share information about those listings with as many people as possible.

Let's take it a step further. While Kraus stopped short of saying that all of this is in the context of happening "on a mobile device," I can't help but think that is where Google is going. The whole notion of taking something "anywhere you want to go" comes right out of the marketing lexicon of any mobile service provider.

So, this is what's getting me excited; Google, which some would deem egregiously behind in the social networking arms races, is already talking about mobilizing social networks.

Think about it. When asked, market experts throw out billion-dollar figures for mobile online advertising and socially targeted ads. A marriage of mobile services and social networking is the Internet's version of Reese's Peanut Butter Cups.  

We know Google is already positioning for this, with newly acquired services such as mobile flier provider Zingku and microblogger Jaiku. We also kinda, sorta know that Google has fashioned a mobile operating system that will power phones made by handset manufacturers.

Roll up Google's OpenSocial and its applications, as well as its mobile applications and mobile social networking services, sit them on an operating system on a just-about-as-sexy-as-an-iPod mobile gadget and you've got yourself a winner.     

"The better the Web is, the better Google's opportunities are," Kraus said.

Indeed, and the better the mobile Web is, the greater Google's already superior online ad growth will be.

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