opensocial playing field

OpenSocial seems to the ultimate “equalizer” in social platforms. But this piece is more about the endless battle between content and distribution, which is fought on every single media that comes along.

i spent a bunch of time back in the early 00s with a master of media, mr Robert Tercek. “aggregator is a dirty word” and “nobody wants to be portalized” are key lessons from Rob…
Parallelizing this media knowledge of the endless fight between content and distribution, he was also the first person i talked to who identified the container vs. provider tension that is current in today’s social app world.

What’s unique about the battle this time is that APIs can provide a common platform across many channels. At a superficial level this is like NTSC being glue between ABC and CBS. But in fact its more like running the same program on both networks,but the content-provider is the only one with access to the end-audience. In the grappling match the question is always, who has the bigger audience? If you can aggregate the networks, you win.. at some point the negotiation seesaw flips.

So given that OpenSocial levels the playing field and reduces service differentiation, which containers would adopt it? Generally, one would assume the underdog. “Less people will build apps for me alone, so I’ll adopt a standard and get more apps”. Interestingly, this doesn’t seem to be the case: market leaders (Bebo in europe, Mixi in Japan, Xiaonei in china, MySpace in the US) are all going opsoc.

My belief is that “social APIs” will migrate and be the *fabric* for internet experiences from now on. The coming of the “logged in internet”. EComm sites, news sites, blog portals – all stand to gain a lot from exposing social APIs.

In an OpenSocial world where the same APIs allow content to have wider distribution than any single silo, the power balance may shift back to the content provider.

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