Walled Social Networking Sites are Dead


Lucky Dip

Well we knew it was coming, Google told us a few months back. So now we get to see the details of . The media have been all over this, here and here and finally here all a buzz that MySpace is in on it. OpenSocial is a method (API) which presents a standard way for developers to build widgets that can pull base information and functionality from an existing Social Network that you are signed up for and place it on another centralised Social Networking Site tha you tend to use. The bottom line with all this of course is that the information available is restricted at present to the very general such as:

  • People and Friends API – view and update People Profiles and Friend relationships.
  • Activities API – view and publish “actions” in the OpenSocial platform
  • Persistence API – view and update key/value content using AtomPub GData APIs with a Google data schema

With the more specific using the relevant sites API.

So What’s  the Deal

So what’s the big deal with all this, you could mashup APIs into other social applications before. Yes you could, but each social network tended to have their own API with its own quirks and “special needs”. What OpenSocial does is apply a standard across the board that you can easily use (its all HTML and JavaScript based on the client side). So you only have to develop the code for a widget once to apply it across a number of social networks. Mind you it’s only a select number of partners at this stage, lets hope Google keep it open.

Is this a direct attack on the walled garden of Facebook and the semi closed nonstandard APIs of the various Yahoo social networking sites. Oh yeah you bet it is. Google are leveraging the smaller niche players into one force by presenting a platform with which they can integrate their services across each others networks. This is a much greater reach and leverage than the walled garden of Facebook. What will Yahoo, do, sit and watch, or will they present an alternative

Why is this important. Consider the average social networking site that is around today. It’s basically about making the site as sticky as you can so the audience will return and bring their friends into site to. Or better yet migrate on mass with all their friends and make your SNS the focus of their online community. More people returning every day the more adverts that can be sold. Okay it’s a basic model, doesn’t apply for applications like Twitter, but you get my gist.

Take it to the Next Level

But take it to the next level, you have your own site (page on a social networking site of choice) that you can integrate into any exisiting social networking site you are signed up for, this is OpenSocial as it stands now.

Lets step it up a little. You can take the elements and services that a range of sites offers within your Social Networking Metaverse and if your friends are signed up for the same site (via openID I hope) then they can see or use information from them on separate site, (via OAuth agreements, I hope) not from the main site you are on and present that with your information on your site. And hence the information you have just mashedup can be extended and used by another of your friends centralised on a different social network.

Doing this would remove the need for all your friends to be signed up for all the same networks.

Lets make it better, say we pull this information to your desktop via a localised widget on your computer. Now this brings in the question where are Apple and Microsoft on OpenSocial. Besides the fact Microsoft just wants to advertise with Facebook. Is this the squaring off to Yahoo, Microsoft, Google in each corner of an unholy triumphant.

Social Networking Metaverse

All in all we end up with a stepping away from the centralised social networking model with everyone in a same like social networking metaverse. To one where we will not need to have more than one level of social networking connection over a SNS to the people we are networking with.

You just access all the information you wish via your preferred SNS provider or your own blog (maybe), it’s from your site, hence you also access all your friends information or services from the same place. It’s not a portal, the information is pulled to you from service sites you may never have seen. Okay lets not concern ourselves over the security issues at the moment, we can get around those I’m sure.

It gets to the extent that putting together this type of modularised site is just a matter dragging of dropping the modules/widgets of the relevant external information.

What do you think, will OpenSocial start to make people think beyond the vertical social networks into a meta widget extension of the API turn the entire web into one huge mashup, to the extent we can’t see the beginning of one section or the end of another? Or is this a pipe dream or nightmare?

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  1. > …we can’t see the beginning of one section
    > or the end of another?

    This is the direction things have been going in since the web began. The web is only just now beginning to blossom.

  2. Could VOIS.com become another Facebook?

    Since the advent of social networking sites in 1997, the phenomenon has taken the world by storm. Once called a passing fad social networking is now a thriving business, in 2006, alone it garnered over $6.5 billion in revenue, while the three biggest players, connected over 280 million subscribers in a way never known before to society. This form of connection has drawn the globe closer together than anyone ever predicted.

    Just a few years ago, MySpace.com, solely dominated the social networking site market with almost 80% of the social networking site market but now websites like Facebook entered the social networking site race becoming the 8th most viewed website in the U.S. according to web measuring traffic site Alexa.com. Facebook.com which originally started at Harvard University , later extended to Boston area schools and beyond has mystified many naysayer’s with its explosive growth over the last three years and an astounding asking price of $10-$15 billion dollars for the company. But who will be next?

    Who will carry the torch into the future?

    With the rapid growth of the likes of MySpace and Facebook the burning question on everyone’s tongue is who is next? As with any burgeoning field many newcomers will and go but only the strong and unique will survive. Already many in the field have stumbled, as indicated by their traffic rankings, including heavily funded Eons.com with its former Monster.com founder at the helm, Hooverspot.com and Boomj.com with its ridiculous Web 3.0 slogan. There are many possibilities but it is a dark horse coming fast into view and taking hold in the social networking site market at the global level that has us interested the website – Vois.com. Less than a year ago, this newest contender directed at 25 to 50 years olds graced the absolute bottom of the list with its website ranked at a dismal 5,000,000. With not so much as a squeak this rising star has come from the depths of anonymity growing an eye-popping 10,000% in less than one year to make itself known worldwide now sporting a recent web traffic ranking in the 5,000 range.

    Understanding the Market

    When people in the United States hear about Facebook and other services such as MySpace the widely held belief is that these websites are globally used and are as synonymous as Google or Yahoo in regards to having a global market presence. This idea is completely misguided. Now it is true that both of these social networking giants are geared to service the western industrialized cultures but when it comes to the markets of the future, the emerging markets, they have virtually no presence. The sites themselves are heavily Anglicized, and Facebook in particular has an extremely complicated web interface that eludes even those familiar with the language, making them virtually inaccessible in other parts of the world even where English is the main language.

    Our interest in Vois is global and geopolitical. Simply, Vois understands this lack of market service and is building its provision model on a global research concept developed by Goldman Sachs a few years ago. The concept is basically predicated on the belief that beginning now using current economic models and continuing those models over the next few decades will lead to a major paradigm shift in the world regarding nations who are current economic leaders like those being the USA and the other members of the G-7 and those who will become dominant in the world economy mainly the BRICs. In the Goldman research report Goldman highlights the fastest growing nations and has dubbed them with the two acronyms BRIC’s and N-11. BRIC standing for ( Brazil, R ussia, India and China) representing the fastest growing economies and N-11 or what are being called the Next-11 representing the next 11 countries to emerge as future important economies such as Bangladesh, Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, Korea, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, Philippines, Turkey and Vietnam. This approach has already been implemented with some success with companies like Orkut, who has over 80% of the market share in Brazil and large holdings in India and Eastern Europe . Other providers such as Hi5 have the world as their focus and are making great strides in global market share while Facebook builds itself into a niche provider wholly unready to take on the world.

    A Growing Presence

    As Vois breaks new ground in the world market pursuing previously ignored demographics, they afford themselves the opportunity of tremendous growth unfettered by the giants such as Facebook and MySpace. While cultivating this new user base, Vois will also be able to monopolize on their business revenue strategies, creating an area of commerce that will make their site increasingly attractive to business and users the world over. This concept, dubbed sCommerce, allows the subscriber to promote themselves in both personal and a professional fashion while giving them the option of setting up shop on the site. This approach will allow business owners to target their market in a way never before allowing them to focus on interested groups of individuals while providing follow-up without having to commit to wasteful blanket campaigns that are typically the order of the day. This newfound border will allow Vois to explore new revenue models while provide a tremendous service for both their regular subscribers and business subscribers alike. With all this going on, rapid traffic growth to the site, we pose the question – is Vois the next Facebook, it sure looks like it but only time will tell….

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