Facebook Opens Up Even More
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Facebook on Wednesday announced it will allow developers to transfer their applications built on the Facebook Platform to other social networks.
In a move destined to be seen as a counter to Google's OpenSocial, Facebook will also license the tools and tags underlying the platform architecture to other platforms.
In effect, this will enable developers to cross-pollinate their applications developed on the Facebook Platform on any sites that have adopted the Facebook standards with no additional effort.
Without question, the trend of opening APIs is gathering steam across social networks.
Facebook's announcement comes on the same day that Bebo, the popular British social networking site, announced the launch of its Open Application Platform, which will be compatible with both the Facebook Platform and OpenSocial.
Bebo is the first social network to implement the Facebook Platform standards; it will adopt OpenSocial in 2008.
Bebo had earlier announced that it would invite developers into its platform, but made the launch official with its gala event this morning in San Francisco. Inaugural development partners include NBC Universal, Yahoo and CBS, as well as perennial "widgeteers" Bantr, Jangl and Flixster.
On Monday, LinkedIn announced that it would turn over a set of APIs and widgets to select partners and that those partners would, in turn, be able to build applications on LinkedIn's site using OpenSocial.
Earlier this week, Friendster hopped on the trolley with the full launch of its own set of more than 180 APIs, also available through OpenSocial.
With the methods and tags of the Facebook Markup Language (FBML) now open for developers to use on Bebo, other social networks are expected to adopt the standards. After all, the Facebook Platform has been a great success. Facebook claims that 100,000 developers are creating applications on its platform and that 85 percent of Facebook's members have used one of the applications.
But after Wednesday's announcements, it is tempting to look at APIs and social networks as fertile ground for a battle between what are emerging as two competing standards: OpenSocial and the Facebook Platform.
"We have the same goal," a Google spokesman said in an interview with InternetNews.com, alluding to both Google's and Facebook's stated objective to make the Web more open and social.
"Facebook can absolutely implement OpenSocial, and we hope they will."
Meanwhile, Facebook had no executive available for comment, but a spokeswoman provided InternetNews.com with some prepared comments relating to Bebo's announcement.
One of the topics on the "Bebo Platform FAQ" document asks if opening the Facebook Platform is in response to OpenSocial.
Facebook's answer to its own question is a bit evasive and makes no reference to OpenSocial. Instead, after a brief mention of what the Facebook Platform is and how many developer support it, the company offers this:
"Having more social sites use common implementations, especially those which have proven successful over time, means that everyone benefits," including developers, users and the social networks on which the applications are built.
"We look forward to supporting other social sites as they release their own platforms, and look forward most of all to the added benefit for developers and users."