Are You LinkedIn to The New OpenSocial Network?
By 2005, one social networking service MySpace, was reportedly getting more page views than Google, with Facebook, a competitor, rapidly growing in size. In 2007, Facebook began allowing externally-developed, proprietary add-on applications, some of which enabled the graphing of a user's own social network.
|Market Share of US Internet Visits to Top 4 Social Networking Sites|
February 2007 - Source: Hitwise
According to Wikipedia, a social network service "focuses on the building and verifying of online social networks for communities of people who share interests and activities, or who are interested in exploring the interests and activities of others, and which necessitates the use of software".
"Software" is the key word in the previous paragraph. With Facebook adding one million users per week, it now has between 50 million and 75 million members, depending on whose statistics you wish to believe. MySpace (owned by News Corp.'s Fox Interactive Media) boasts over 100 million members. Numbers of that magnitude have attracted heavyweight software giants, Google and Microsoft. Recently, Microsoft won out over Google for the opportunity to invest in Facebook, which quickly raised Facebook's valuation to $13 billion. Not one to suffer after a defeat, Google bounced back quickly, entering into a software development agreement with MySpace.
The agreement between Google and MySpace is revolutionary, in that it creates an "OpenSocial" standard for add-on applications that can be used on MySpace, and other social network sites as well. In one quick action, Google created the new de facto standard for social networking applications. It is a move so bold that one day we might look back and say, "That was the day that Google trumped Microsoft, once and for all". The difference is that Google's new OpenSocial software standard was quickly adopted by other powerful social networking sites, such as Bebo.com, Hi5 Networks, Ning.com, Friendster.com, Salesforce.com and LinkedIn.com. If other business networking sites, such as Ziggs, ryze, Doostang, XING, Plaxo follow suit, OpenSocial might be unstoppable.
While most of the hype in social networking has gone to the "Social" aspects of the top sites, the real money might just be in the "Business" aspects of such networking sites as LinkedIn. For example, LinkedIn has approximately 15 million users, putting it somewhere in the top five social networking sites, when viewed by number of users. The main purpose of the site is to allow registered users to maintain a list of contact details of people they know and trust in business. The people in the list are called Connections. Users can invite anyone (whether a LinkedIn user or not) to become a connection. Rather than looking at what your friends did last Saturday night, as you might on MySpace, users of LinkedIn are more likely looking for the new business opportunities that an extended business network offers. Click the link to see my public profile on LinkedIn.
There was a time when we all guarded our business contacts jealously. If we exposed our best customers, clients or associates to each other, the predominant thought was that we might cut ourselves out of the communications loop, and thus lose business. That theory implies that we live in an exclusionary universe and will be punished if we openly include others. Since the Quantum Leap, in late September, that theory has gone by the wayside.
If one takes the Microsoft or Yahoo business model as the "Old Energy" way of doing business, we will all continue to hide our contacts the same way Microsoft hides its source code from developers. If Google's business model represents the "New Energy" way of doing business, we will judiciously share our contacts with trusted partners, just as OpenSocial code will be shared across a mega-network of social networking sites.
In the pre-internet days of 1984, Stewart Brand of Whole Earth Catalog fame said, "Information wants to be free." With the changes we have seen in only the past few weeks, there is a much better chance that it will be.
Author's Note: 120104_ Google + = the new frontier.