There is no doubt that Google is the center of the Search Engine universe. The web is “Googlecentric” so to speak. But with little market share left to claim, Google has set it’s crosshairs on emerging markets in which it can similarly dominate.
Two of the tech industries biggest buzzwords are currently “mobile” and “social networking”. We already know how Google is altering the gravitational pull of the mobile industry, putting themselves in the center of that universe, but what about Social Networking?
Google promises FriendConnect will allow website owners to “make any site social” by providing easily embeddable code that will allow you a multitude of social networking features without ever having to leave a website.
With FriendConnect, websites that want to create a community element, as most sites now do, needn’t put time, effort and money into developing a community portal. Instead, a customizable widget of sorts will allow website owners to allow functionality including, “user registration, invitations, members gallery, message posting, and reviews, as well as third-party applications built by the OpenSocial developer community.”
We hate to break it to you… but the idea is NOT unique. In fact, current website owners may be familiar with a popular widget called MyBlogLog which offers similar features with equally easy to implement code. A show of hands – how many people knew that Yahoo bought MyBlogLog in January of 2008?
So what will make FriendConnect better than MyBlogLog? We’ll get to that. But first, lets learn a little more about what FriendConnect will do.
In their press release, Google explains that people want to communicate with their friends but, “are tiring of needing to create new logins and profiles and recreate their friends lists wherever they go on the web.” We concur. Every time a new website and service is labeled the “next big thing” you can sense a collective sigh… “ugh, another login, password”. Not only that, but connecting with your friends on various sites becomes a laundry list of chores instead of a pleasure.
“Visitors to any site using Google Friend Connect will be able to see, invite, and interact with new friends, or, using secure authorization APIs, with existing friends from social sites on the web, including Facebook, Google Talk, hi5, orkut, Plaxo, and more.”
We like where this is going.
Google’s recent business seems to be based on one key word: Consolidation. This isn’t anything new and the announcement of FriendConnect is far from a surprise. Perhaps you’ll recall a little something anounced by Google on November, 1st 2007 (before Android) called OpenSocial.
So then doesn’t it seem peculiar that on March 25, 2008, Yahoo announced their participation in the OpenSocial initiative? Yeah… a little bit. But with MySpace being dethroned by Facebook, and high-up execs flocking to the emerging social giant, anything other than Facebook will need as much ammo as possible to bring down the castle.
OpenSocial and FriendConnect are two very different things, so lets distinguish between them. FriendConnect and MyBlogLog are on the same wavelenth – embeddable implementations of mashed up social networks offering on-site functionality. OpenSocial is the movement towards only needing one login name for everything you have… consolidating your online presence by assuming your OpenSocial ID will gain you access to a growing number of services. Your OpenSocial ID, for example, would gain you access TO FriendConnect and/or MyBlogLog.
Unfortunately for Yahoo, Google is simply going to implement the concept better. Sure, Yahoo! has first mover advantage but Yahoo’s shortcomings are well documented and the scope and abilities of MyBlogLog are limited. Google promises to do much, much more.
This whole web of social networking gets really confusing considering OpenSocial and Facebook are considered rivals yet FriendConnect will allow for Facebooking features. It all goes back to the concept of Google trying to put themselves at the center of whatever universe they want to dominate. In the perfect world, you would never need to visit Facebook.com again because every single website would have FriendConnect embedded, allowing you to seamlessly connect to Facebook without leaving the site you’re on.
So… instead of seeing the ads on Facebook.com you’ll be seeing the ads in the FriendConnect widget. I can hear you thinking, “So there will be ads in the FriendConnect widget?” Maybe not initially… after Google has enough leverage, feeding ads would be the logical next step.
We are on an Android related site, so there MUST be some connection to the mobile industry, right? Of course. The timing of Google’s planned consolidation of Mobile OS and Social Networking comes at the time of media convergence. No one device does one thing. In fact, every device does nearly everything.
It’s no coincidence that Google and Verizon are currently talking about “Any app, Any device,” for the 700 MHz spectrum while Google’s FriendConnect is promising, “Any App, Any Site, Any Friends.”
The technology to do some pretty amazing things already exists… it has for awhile. Unfortunately, the inter-corporate barriers that have been built have made successfully implementing these technologies difficult for companies, service providers, and consumers. So here is Google… doing what made it successful in the first place… tearing down the barriers and complications to provide consumers with a one stop shop for their needs.
Afterall, they know that putting the needs/desires of consumers before profit will put them at the center of an industry’s universe, ultimately generating more revenue than anyone thought they could.
Welcome to FriendConnect.
Example Sites Using FriendConnect: