Today, MySpace and Google launched OpenSocial, an initative to challenge Facebook. OpenSocial will launch a set of common APIs, designed to create an alternative developer platform to that offered by Facebook. The idea is of course to draw back third-party developer efforts from Facebook’s proprietary platform, and back towards the web as the platform. Since Facebook opened up its platform this spring, more than 5,000 small programs have been built to run on the Facebook site. Google has managed to attract some of the key Facebook app companies Flixster, Rock You, Slide, and iLike to work with them on OpenSocial.
Om Malik points out the need for standardized social networks: "Even if you take Facebook out of the equation, the task of writing and adapting widgets for the every increasing number of social platforms was going to turn into a colossal mess."
A BIG question, from an advertising and privacy perspective, is whether Google will have access to the user profile of all the “hosts”?
NY Times always gives you the full story, including the business implications: "Google and Friends to Gang Up on Facebook". More on the technical background at TechCrunch.