Google versus Facebook

23 Nov

Nick O’Neill

There has been little discussion surrounding yesterday’s Facebook announcement of fbOpen, the open-source version of the Facebook platform. Many have speculated about the intention of fbOpen and have boiled it down to a response to Google’s OpenSocial initiative. It is difficult to predict what will happen now that the platform has been open-sourced but it appears that Facebook has moved beyond licensing the platform and is instead making it a free-for-all so that developers can have their application run on other websites.

To me, Facebook’s release of their open-source platform is also an acknowledgment that the world does not just exist in blue and white (Facebook’s colors). So if Facebook knows that there is a world beyond their borders, why don’t they just support the OpenSocial initiative? Facebook claims that it’s because of privacy reasons but there has to be something beyond privacy that is really a concern for them.

Mike Arrington seems to think that it is a last ditch effort by Facebook to become the defacto standard of the social web. Unfortunately for Facebook I think it is a losing battle. At this point I’d say that the majority of users have picked their social network of choice and will use one site most often. Additionally, Facebook selected a somewhat restrictive license as Matt Asay points out.

As I wrote this morning though, all of this is ultimately a stupid, drawn-out game of chess (or poker). I wrote, “The reality is that Facebook will find that no matter how much money they have in the bank, there is no way that they can innovate faster than the overall market.” Facebook shouldn’t try to out smart Google and others by participating in their game.

Instead Facebook should simply open up and move on to the real issue at hand: figuring out a way to make money on social networks. After all is said and done we’ll all be singing O.A.R.’s “That Was a Crazy Game of Poker.”

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