By Wendy Tanaka
Google got back at Facebook on Thursday, announcing that MySpace has joined the growing ranks of social networks that have committed to use its new platform for developers of applications for the sites.
The addition of the News Corp. social network heaps pressure on Facebook–which recently chose Microsoft over Google to be an equity holder in the company–to sign on to the new set of standards, dubbed OpenSocial. With MySpace, developers gain instant access to the world’s largest social network with 115 million users. Facebook, which rolled out its own developer platform last spring, has 51 million users, less than half of MySpace’s members.
At a press conference to announce the partnership, Google and MySpace executives declined to comment on whether Facebook will join OpenSocial. Vic Gundotra, vice president of engineering at Google, assured reporters gathered at the Internet giant’s Mountain View, Calif., headquarters that the company has reached out to every major social network. “We want to see it adopted by everyone,” he said. “We’re not announcing further partnerships now. We anticipate more momentum now.”
MySpace Chief Executive Chris DeWolfe is confident the new platform will “become the de facto standard” for application developers.
Google had been expected to officially announce the OpenSocial platform Thursday, but reports about it surfaced Wednesday.
OpenSocial will allow developers to build tiny applications that can be used across many social networks, boosting traffic and advertising on their sites. Google and MySpace said the main benefit of the platform to developers is that it standardizes how applications are created.
“Not rebuilding and rebuilding on different standards … will be great for developers and end users,” said DeWolfe, who took part in the press conference at Google’s Mountain View, Calif., headquarters. “One of the big trends on the Internet is that users want to consume content when they want it and how they want it.”
Google Chief Executive Eric Schmidt said Google and MySpace have been working together on the platform for more than a year. It had been rumored, however, that MySpace would launch its own developer platform.
Executives declined to comment on how all the companies that have said they will use the standards, which include Friendster, Hi5, LinkedIn and more than a dozen other social networks, will make money from the platform.
At the conference, Joe Kraus of Google’s JotSpot wiki product said applications embedded on MySpace Web pages, for example, will foster “more interaction on MySpace, which means more time spent on the site and more ad revenues.”
Questions about privacy were also raised. Joe Greenstein, chief executive of applications developer Flixster, another partner, said Google doesn’t have access to partners’ user data. “Google is spearheading the initiative, but Google doesn’t touch the data, doesn’t own it.”
Developers were expected to gather at the Googleplex on Thursday night to test their applications on Google’s Orkut social network.
Some of these developers might also be building applications for Facebook. But if Google’s platform is easy to use, these developers might be tempted to pour their hearts and energies into one platform more than another.
Mark Zuckerberg, are you paying attention?