Ning: the OpenSocial Winner

I think that Ning is going to benefit the most from OpenSocial. Here is a short description of why.

Reason #1: Designed from the ground up around APIs

A lot of the social networks announcing support for OpenSocial are doing it as a desperate measure to try to counter Facebook. Their website was not designed to be extensible. They are just putting some lipstic on the pig and try to win some PR by leveraging Google’s brand and power. On the other side, Ning was all about extensibility and platform. Since day one! To the point that if you wanted to build a social network in Ning 1.0, you had to create the UI yourself. Evangelizing APIs is hard, very hard. Open Social is going to do that for Ning. This is a huge win!

Reason #2: The next generation social networks

As powerful as open standard can be, I think that Facebook has too much momentum for anyone to be able to attack them head to head – even for a Google. The power of facebook is not the applications per se but the community. They are spreading like wild fire. People join facebook because their friends are there – not because of a fancy applications. I have heard people say that we are at the beginning of social network adoption 200 million actual users versus 2-3 billion potential users. But those 200 millions are the early adopters. The others are going to look up to. Who (except Scoble who is pissed off to have reached the limit in terms of number of users) is going to go and replicate his entire network on Orkut? This seems similar to Yahoo trying to go head-to-head against eBay once eBay had already reached critical mass.

Instead of going head to head with facebook, Ning is instead looking at the next generation social networks, smaller, active groups of users who want to own their own place on the net and want to have 100% control over the experience and functionality of the network. The result: great looking websites with a lot of personality. 100,000s of them.

It is going to be interesting to see how all this plays out, once the hype settles and we have clearer visibility into where adoption occurs. My bets are on facebook, Ning and iGoogle!

Author: @feedly

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