Google outlined its Google Friend Connect, a service that promises to insert social features into any application and any site.
Sound familiar? It is. MySpace has its friend connect service and Facebook has its version.
Add it up and you have a good old fashioned ground war over this question: Is social networking a feature or a destination site? For Facebook, the answer so far is that latter–of course it would love you to carry it around to other sites. Simply put, everyone wants to be the suitcase that carries your social graph.
According to google:
Websites that are not social networks may still want to be social — and now they can be, easily. With Google Friend Connect, any website owner can add a snippet of code to his or her site and get social features up and running immediately without programming — picking and choosing from built-in functionality like user registration, invitations, members gallery, message posting, and reviews, as well as third-party applications built by the OpenSocial developer community.
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.
The tug of war is over control and the ground war is just beginning. Who controls these friend repositories? Even in an age of open data there will be aggregation winners. If Google’s OpenSocial gang disperses these networks then Facebook has issues. If Facebook succeeds with its walled garden approach, it stays a winner. Google’s plan: Adopt social standards and APIs from everywhere to let folks connect. The potential for Google: Be the friend aggregator.
Lump in ad revenue and it’s highly likely that Google will get a few sites to go along with Google Friend Connect.
And let’s not forget Yahoo. Even, Yahoo launched its Open Strategy with plans to infuse social networking throughout its sites. The message: Social networking is a feature not a destination.