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Human Potential in the Age of Exponential Tech

Google to Facebook: Game ON!

There was an interesting article from Time Magazine a few days ago about a new initiative being started by the super brains at Google.

It’s no secret that Google has been eying the gigantic social networking pie dominated by Facebook and trying to figure out the best way to enter the field. According to a new project, they don’t want to just enter the field, they’re going to level it.

Soon, every website will have the ability to be it’s own social network. Google announced that it will be entering the “social plumbing” business, and developing a set of tools that would allow each site to add an endless number of applications and the infrastructure to let users communicate amongst each other. Hey Googlers, when will you enter the “social electricity” business and figure out a way to bypass the ISP’s and power this bad boy of an internet?

The program is called Friend Connect. Any site can apply but only one or two dozen sites will be chosen for the initial preview release (aka pilot program)

What you need to know:

  • One the program is live you’ll have to cut and paste a few lines of code onto your site.
  • You’ll be able to choose from tons of applications, which range from creating a playlist for your favorite songs to the ability to geolocate your friends.
  • The program uses OpenID, which is already utilized by some of the largest sites like AOL, and of course Google. So your Gmail Login is your OpenID, presto chango, no multiple login required.
  • If you’re logged in, you’ll be able to see your list of contacts and follow their activities on any Friend Connect site. Privacy settings still stand, so if I posted a comment on a wall on a site, only my friends who read that site would be able to read it, strangers wouldn’t even see my comment at all.

What does this mean?

This is Google’s response to Facebook’s walled garden approach, which I previously blogged about

They are replicating Facebook’s key differentiator which is the ability to define your network (friends) as well as the applications or filters through which you view the world and allowing users to exert that control on the wide open web.

Where I see this going:

  • Goodbye one way broadcasting. Interactivity on the web has been kicked up another level. If this program takes off, many more sites will have the ability to create networks and community without the hassle of multiple logins or data portability challenges.
  • Evolution of new marketing metrics. This is the new age of marketing metrics. I foresee new consumer profiles being built (by Google) based on not only search engine parameters but by the applications that users prefer to communicate through. (For example, I wonder how you would market a product to a consumer who prefers wall postings, vs. instant chat applications…) Talk about a customized sales response!
  • New Implications for Closed Communities. I wonder what’s going to happen to companies that don’t join OpenSocial. All the benefits of Facebook become less important if you can’t apply them to your regular surfing behavior. Maybe Facebook will introduce their own web browser to allow similar Friend Connect features within their home turf. That remains to be seen.

Facebook, the next move is yours.

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