Google Launches OpenSocial to Spread Social Applications Across the Web
Support for Common Set of APIs Includes Bebo, iLike, MySpace, orkut, and Salesforce.com
MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. (November 1, 2007) – Google, Inc. (NASDAQ: GOOG) today announced the release of OpenSocial – a set of common APIs for building social applications across the web – for developers of social applications and for websites that want to add social features. OpenSocial will unleash more powerful and pervasive social capabilities for the web, empowering developers to build far-reaching applications that users can enjoy regardless of the websites, web applications, or social networks they use. The release of OpenSocial marks the first time that multiple social networks have been made accessible under a common API to make development and distribution easier and more efficient for developers.
The proliferation of unique APIs across dozens of social websites is forcing developers to choose which ones to write applications for — and then spend their time writing separately for each. OpenSocial gives developers of social applications a single set of APIs to learn for their applications to run on any OpenSocial-enabled website. By providing these simple, standards-based technologies, OpenSocial will speed innovation and bring more social features to more places across the web. Users win too: they get more interesting, engaging, and useful features faster.
"The web is fundamentally better when it’s social, and we’re only just starting to see what’s possible when you bring social information into different contexts on the web," said Jeff Huber, senior vice president of engineering, Google. "There’s a lot of innovation that will be spurred simply by creating a standard way for developers to run social applications in more places. With the input and iteration of the community, we hope OpenSocial will become a standard set of technologies for making the web social."
Learn Once, Reach Across the Web
One of the most important benefits of OpenSocial is the vast distribution network that developers will have for their applications. The sites that have already committed to supporting OpenSocial – Bebo, Engage.com, Friendster, hi5, Hyves, imeem, LinkedIn, mixi, MySpace, Ning, Oracle, orkut, Plaxo, Salesforce.com, Six Apart, Tianji, Viadeo, and XING – represent an audience of about 200 million users globally. Critical for time- and resource-strapped developers is being able to "learn once, write anywhere" – learn the OpenSocial APIs once and then build applications that work with any OpenSocial-enabled websites.
"Thanks to the broad adoption of the OpenSocial platform, iLike can now enable artists to reach an additional 200 million music enthusiasts across the wide range of websites that have adopted this new platform," said Ali Partovi, CEO of social music service iLike, inc. "Building upon the 15 million music fans we already reach through other channels, the OpenSocial platform helps us pursue our vision of becoming the broadest artist-fan communication platform on the web, without having to write custom software for multiple websites."
Several developers, including Flixster, FotoFlexer, iLike, RockYou, Slide, Theikos, and VirtualTourist have already built applications that use the OpenSocial APIs. A developer sandbox will be available soon at sandbox.orkut.com so developers can go in and start testing the OpenSocial APIs. The goal is to have developers build applications in the sandbox so they can deploy on orkut and ultimately other OpenSocial sites.
More Social in More Places
The existence of this single programming model also helps websites that are eager to satisfy their users’ interest in social features. More developers building social applications more easily translates directly into more features more quickly for websites.
"orkut has tens of millions of passionate users who are constantly clamoring for new ways to have fun with their friends and express themselves through orkut," said Amar Gandhi, group product manager for orkut, Google’s social networking service. "By using OpenSocial to open up orkut as a platform for any developer, we can tap into the vast creativity of the community and make new features available to our users frequently."
The common method that OpenSocial provides for writing social applications means that websites can engage a much larger pool of third-party developers than they could otherwise. They can direct resources that might have gone to maintaining a proprietary API and supporting its developer community to other projects.
"We are thrilled to be supporting OpenSocial," said Marc Andreessen, Co-founder and CTO of Ning. "These standards give both creators and members of the over 113,000 social networks on Ning an awesome breadth of feature options and an even greater opportunity to make their networks uniquely their own. OpenSocial is the future."
Because OpenSocial removes the hassle from developing for social networks, developers can unleash their creativity anywhere that catches their interest. This will translate into a wave of social features in contexts outside of the personal entertainment and games that are traditionally thought of as the social web.
"We fundamentally believe that OpenSocial is the right design philosophy," said Dan Nye, CEO of LinkedIn. "Some social experiences are about photo sharing, some are affinity-based, some professionally oriented--OpenSocial allows each experience to be distinct and provides them a shared infrastructure for development."
"Our goal is to make life as simple as possible for developers who want to reach the global hi5 audience," said Ramu Yalamanchi, CEO of hi5. "OpenSocial provides a simple and practical open standard approach that encourages developers to build innovative applications."
"OpenSocial is an evolutionary step in the integration of third-party applications into the social web," said Max Levchin, founder and CEO of Slide. "Google’s standards-based platform gives us deeper access to multiple networks, which allows us to create a much richer user experience."
"The Internet has fundamentally changed the expectations that consumers have for business applications," said Adam Gross, vice president of developer marketing, salesforce.com. "By combining the Force.com Platform and Visualforce with the latest OpenSocial APIs, developers and customers can build and deploy a new class of socially-enabled enterprise applications in a way that improves CRM, collaboration and other business workflows."
Three APIs Available Now
The OpenSocial APIs give developers (with users’ permission) access to the data needed to build social applications: access to an application user’s profile information, their list of friends, and the ability to share their activities with friends. OpenSocial resources for developers and websites are now available at code.google.com/apis/opensocial.
Developers will have access to:
- A live developer sandbox on orkut at sandbox.orkut.com
- Sample code, documentation, and a support group available at code.google.com
Websites will have access to:
- A tool to help OpenSocial-enable their websites
- A support forum for communicating with Google and other websites
- Sample code, documentation, and a support group available at code.google.com
Developers Already at Work
Dozens of developers have helped test early iterations of the OpenSocial APIs, and Google is grateful for the extensive feedback they have provided:
- Bleacher Report
- Brad Anderson
- Bunchball, Inc.
- Cardinal Blue Software
- Chronus Corporation
- eTwine Holdings, Inc.
- Fendoo Ltd
- Hungry Machine
- iFamily, Inc.
- KlickSports, Inc.
- LabPixies Ltd.
- Mesa Dynamics, LLC
- MuseStorm Inc.
- NY Times
- Oberon Media
- SideStep, Inc.
- Zytu Inc.
Links to these gadgets are available at code.google.com/apis/opensocial.
About Google Inc.
Google’s innovative search technologies connect millions of people around the world with information every day. Founded in 1998 by Stanford Ph.D. students Larry Page and Sergey Brin, Google today is a top web property in all major global markets. Google’s targeted advertising program provides businesses of all sizes with measurable results, while enhancing the overall web experience for users. Google is headquartered in Silicon Valley with offices throughout the Americas, Europe and Asia. For more information, visit www.google.com.
Google, orkut, and OpenSocial are trademarks of Google Inc. All other company and product names may be trademarks of the companies with which they are associated.
*This release has been modified from its original version as of 3:21 pm, November 2, 2007.