Social network is hot.
Growth of Youtube, Facebook, and Myspace have focused attention on the shared aspects of the Internet. The latest battle features incumbents like Yahoo, Google, and Microsoft against growth leaders like Facebook, Myspace, and Youtube. Each company has chosen different strategies.
Who will win?
What path should bloggers, publishers, and enterprises choose to participate?
Facebook Connect versus Google FriendConnect
Facebook and Google are extending beyond their respective strongholds to reach more partners.
- Facebook Connect revives their controversial beacon program. Partners like Techcrunch, Digg, and Wordpress allow visitors to sign-in using their Facebook userid. Activities, like comments, report to minifeeds and newsfeeds at Facebook - for viewing by friends and associates. Partners and users benefit from increased mindshare at Facebook. Conversely, Facebook gains mindshare outside of the Facebook walled garden. Sites like FriendFeed, Twitter, and Mybloglog that aggregate activities from many sites become less relevant.
- Google FriendConnect allows publishers, primarily blogs at their blogger.com site, to add social network features to their site. Visitors sign-in using their Google userid. Their profile at socialized blogs point back to their website. Other features replace the commenting features of blogger with a centralized database managed by Google. Blogs and users benefit from shared visibility. The primary winner is Google, as they struggle to build the newsfeed services to match Facebook. The loser might be Ning and other custom social network services.
Facebook targets larger sites with a centralized approach. Google targets millions of smaller sites with a de-centralized approach. Who wins?
Is it an 'apple-orange' comparison?
Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo Join the Battle
Connect versus FriendConnect is not the only battle.
- Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo have integrated their profile and personal page services with their email to allow members to connect with each other. Do email users trust these companies to control the sharing?
- Circle of Moms, Pickens Plan, Barak Obama, and others have levered Facebook applications to cherry pick Facebook users and build their own social networks. Not surprisingly, Facebook has made it harder for third-party developers to have a viral presence in their walled garden.
- Youtube and FlickR have opened their platforms to share content with partners big and small. At the same time, they have also added friend connections and group discussions to encourage centralized participation.
- Myspace/Fox and Bepo/AOL suffer paralysis analysis after being purchased by media companies.
- Secondary social networks like LinkedIn, Hi5, and Ning have accelerated features development.
Despite the economic problems, the pace of change has accelerated. In bad economic times, web usage explodes. It's an opportunity that enterprises can't ignore.
Millions of websites and bloggers struggle to keep up with the trend changes.
So, who wins?
Billions of users benefit from more interesting and accessible content.
What do you think?
BTW, join Google FriendConnect.