Google Social Challenge – users do not follow developers, developers chase users.

Tech is buzzing with Google’s plan to enter the social network space today with Google OpenSocial, a set of APIs that will allow rapid development of social networking applications across several sites that are working with Google now, such as Friendster and LinkedIn.   UPDATE:  and Myspace

At this point it appears Google Social will not allow better convergence of applications with Facebook, and it seems unlikely (let’s assume a zero percent chance) that Facebook and their new partner Microsoft are going to work hard to make the social network space a big, open, happy family run by Google via Google Social.   UPDATE:  Myspace just joined the Google Open Social Network.

Myspace is still the key player here with some 5x as many users as Facebook, depending on which metric you use to figure out traffic, users, subscribers, pageviews, or attention.

This will certainly lead to a surge of initial activity as developers chase the users of those sites – a user base that is substantial – Marc Andreessen says 100,000,000 users which would be more than twice Facebook’s user base.  Update – Google is now accessing far more of the key users than Facebook.   

  Can Google social resurrect Friendster?    Maybe, if the APIs are good enough that we can carry profiles in and out of sites seamlessly. 

I’m speculating here but would guess that the Google move is going to quickly shake up the Social space into three camps:  Two?  One camp?    Facebook+MSN, and Myspace+Google Social which will tie together thousands of existing and new social environments.    

Facebook is obviously the key player to watch.  The stakes are about as high as they can get and I bet Marc Zuckerberg and his brilliant Facebook gang have corked the champagne bottles and deciding how to move ahead.   Prediction:  They’ll stay the course with moderatly openness and will reject Google Social.

Given that many have been looking for a ‘one stop’ social network stop is there room for more players in this space?   Certainly yes given this open approach.    It’s even possible (though I think unlikely) that enough users would insist on the new open standards that they could push Myspace and Facebook to line up with Open Social.   Update: Myspace is on board now.

Here’s a simpy *superb* summary of the emerging landscape by Google partner and web pioneer Marc Andreessen of Netscape and now Ning.   

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