I can’t help but think Om Malik is under some kind of Facebook conference spell when he first criticizes their presentation as too stylish (comparing Mark Zuckerberg to that bastion of style and wit Colin Farrell = OUCH!) but then gushes that Facebook Connect is going to be the big winner in terms of bringing web-wide social functionality.
In addition to offering a simple authentication method, FC allows granular social interactions to be embedded in non-Facebook services. If Facebook can work with its partners to build interesting use-case scenarios that go beyond simple sign-on, it is quite feasible that Facebook can out-execute Google, MySpace and everyone else with its ID ambitions.
I suppose it depends on what he means by “quite feasible”, but I’d still predict that Google Friend Connect (still in Beta) is the system to watch in this space for two very simple reasons:
1) It’s Simple
2) It’s Google
A great example of the first challenge is to read the Malik excerpt above. How many mom and pop websites will read that and say “wow, gotta have it!”. The answer is very few. Instead, I think in a few months they will be working their PPC account at Google and be prompted to “click here for the code to make your site a social masterpiece”.
Even assuming Facebook’s social application will allow very simply integration with any website, it’s going to be very hard to compete with the web’s top brand as web empires as well as mom and pop websites seek to integrate social functions into their sites.
I’m not suggesting Facebook will fail however. I just think that once the game begins in earnest both Myspace and Facebook will struggle to keep up with Google. I think we’ll see social functionality spread quickly across the web, probably starting from the three key places working this angle right now: Google, Facebook, and Myspace. A key question will be how these three will choose to allow their applications to interact, but luckily for users there is a lot of pressure for cross compatibility of social networking.
So, in the end everybody is going to win, and we should soon see a great new layer of social functionality spread across the entire web. And that….is a good thing.