Google rises to Facebook challenge with rival social networking plan
Google yesterday sought to counter the growing power of Facebook, unveiling a strategy that it claimed could eventually spread the benefits of social networking to other unrelated websites.
The move came as Google's stock price rose above $700 for the first time, capping a rise of 40 per cent since the middle of August, on the back of strong results and enthusiasm about its core advertising business.
Google's strategy, called OpenSocial, marks the search group's response to the threat of social networking, a force that has emerged on the web this year.
Facebook has become Silicon Valley's hottest company since the rise of Google after it "opened up" its site to other developers earlier this year. That has let others add their own applications to its site, creating a race in the Valley to build new services for Facebook's booming audience.
The risk that this could spiral, as more applications attract a bigger audience and vice-versa, has led bigger rival MySpace to announce a similar strategy.
The technology that Google unveiled yesterday will let developers spread applications across any of the social networks that adopt it, removing the need to rewrite them for each one. With more than 100m users between them, these networks should have a big enough audience to draw attention from developers, said Joe Kraus, the developer heading Google's initiative.
He described the move as the first step in a plan to break down barriers between social networking sites, eventually creating interfaces that would let users share their data. Internet users would be able to use their personal and social data on any Internet service they wanted, he added, while also being able to communicate with their network from anywhere on the web.
While agreeing that this was the vision behind OpenSocial, another member of the Google consortium warned that no deals were yet in place to effect this.
"I think it's pie in the sky," said Ray Valdes, an analyst at Gartner. He dubbed the move as the "opening shot in the social platform wars", as Google, Facebook and MySpace try to position themselves as the dominant platform on the budding "social web".
While Facebook's strategy has changed the way the industry thinks about social networks, "we're still in the very beginning of a long road", said Ali Partovi, chief executive of iLike, another builder of applications for social networking sites.
Источник: Financial Times
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