So it is fair to say that Google has turned the Social Networks business on its head with one quick announcement. By evangelizing OpenSocial and bringing in MySpace, Friendster, LinkedIn, Ning, Engage.com, hi5, Hyves, imeem, Oracle, Orkut, Plaxo, Salesforce.com, Six Apart, Tianji, Viadeo, and Xing, Google has put itself at the center of the social networks business. Or nearly there.
Facebook with its 50 million users is missing from the party. Everybody else has signed up to allow users to carry their identities, friends and applications between networks. But no one can touch Facebook. Does this mean Facebook is doomed? Not quite, it already has the users, the connections and more than enough applications. It simply did not need Google's OpenSocial initiative. Now this may change in the future, but for now, Facebook is being clever. They don't need to join something that they don't need.
What does this mean for the social network users? Hopefully, it'll mean that these other social networking sites will get stronger. For example, I run a 300 person community on Ning and I certainly could do with some more applications for my network. I need those applications to prevent users from defecting to a competing Facebook group. Maybe, I'll get those as more developers code for OpenSocial. But only time will tell how much the announcements of the last two days matter. No one is going to be running away from Facebook because the applications are available elsewhere. We all loved Facebook before they introduced the applications. If anything, the OpenSocial initiative may spur the next revolutionary social network that gives Facebook some serious competition.
And as always, we won't know for a while how Google plans to make money off this initiative. But given where there stock is today, I don't think they are worrying about that too much.