Yahoo said on Tuesday that it would support a program by archrival Google to develop applications for social networks, and plans to help create a joint foundation to keep it alive.
Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) launched its OpenSocial network in November to lure developers already creating popular Web applications on social networks like Facebook.
Many social networks, including News Corp.-owned MySpace, Friendster and hi5, support OpenSocial, a set of technological specifications that lets software developers build applications such as games and photo shows that can run on any social network.
The scope of OpenSocial is increasing and OpenSocial applications reach more than 200 million users, Joe Kraus, Google’s director of product management, said on a conference call.
“If you want to go fast, go alone, if you want to go far, go together,” Kraust said of the OpenSocial effort, which is currently endorsed by more than 15 companies.
Yahoo, Google and MySpace also said on Tuesday they would create the OpenSocial Foundation to maintain a neutral, community-governed forum for developing applications. It will be set up as a nonprofit entity, with assets to be assigned to the new organization by July 1.
“Common specifications are beneficial to the developer community at large and encourage innovation” and eventually enrich the Web experience for people, Wade Chambers, Yahoo’s vice president of Platforms, said on the call.
He declined to provide specific examples of how Yahoo plans to use OpenSocial applications.
Facebook, which got $240 million from Microsoft Corp last year, has not yet endorsed OpenSocial. It offers its own specifications for application developers.
Yahoo (NASDAQ: YHOO)is also the subject of a $42 billion hostile offer from Microsoft, which has not signed on to OpenSocial either.
But Yahoo’s Chambers said they would welcome Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) or any other company that wants to join.
“Any large player should be open to participate,” he said.