Google to Unveil Friend Connect Tonight
Josh Chambers, Former Viget
Google just built a social media platform -- and it's not called Orkut.
By inserting a small snippet of code, Google's new social media initiative, Friend Connect, will allow any web site to, "get social features up and running immediately without programming -- picking and choosing from built-in functionality like user registration, invitations, members gallery, message posting, and reviews, as well as third-party applications built by the OpenSocial developer community."
The idea is to allow everyone, regardless of money or bandwidth, to integrate social interaction on their web site. I have a huge crush on Google.
In the words of Google's director of engineering, David Galizer's:
Google Friend Connect is about helping the 'long tail' of sites become more social. Many sites aren't explicitly social and don't necessarily want to be social networks, but they still benefit from letting their visitors interact with each other. That used to be hard. Fortunately, there's an emerging wave of social standards -- OpenID, OAuth, OpenSocial, and the data access APIs published by Facebook, Google, MySpace, and others. Google Friend Connect builds on these standards to let people easily connect with their friends, wherever they are on the web, making 'any app, any site, any friends' a reality.
I am excited to see how this could shape social media as well as the online industry as a whole. While it does have potential to suck, the mere fact that Google is launching this initiative speaks volumes for the importance of social media -- as well as the permanence. I can think of so many web sites that would benefit from engendering dialog but may not have the resources, time, or expertise to build the required tools.
There aren't a ton of details as of yet, being that Friend Connect hasn't even launched. But I will be curious to see how they market this tool, as well as how powerful it is. Will it be an entry level tool that is geared toward low-key web sites? Or will it have the capacity to be used by large businesses/web sites that can't afford a disjointed user experience?