Yahoo enrolls in Google's OpenSocial network, joining MySpace

On the same day Microsoft casts its net to draw Facebook, LinkedIn, Bebo, and two others into a contacts-sharing system, Yahoo joins Google's similar collective which already snared MySpace and just poached imeem. The battle lines are starting to be drawn.

You can't find any corner of the computing industry these days where there are fewer than two competing standards or ways of doing business. Among the general "social networking community," there are fast becoming two centers of gravity. Google already placed itself at the center of one with its creation of the OpenSocial Foundation last October; and if Microsoft isn't exactly at the other center, it's trying to adjust its orbit to come close enough, with the establishment of a network of services with Windows Live as the facilitator.

Today, Google's side of the universe got a lot more massive with the addition of Yahoo, which is once again clearly casting its lot as outside of Microsoft's circle of influence.

OpenSocial is based around a reference implementation for the development of independent applications that use social networks as their means of making contacts with the outside world. As the most recent version of its specification currently reads, "OpenSocial is a set of APIs for building social applications that run on the Web. OpenSocial's goal is to make more apps available to more users, by providing a common API that can be used in many different contexts. Developers can create applications, using standard JavaScript and HTML, that run on social websites that have implemented the OpenSocial APIs. These Web sites, known as OpenSocial containers, allow developers to access their social information; in return they receive a large suite of applications for their users."

While Google provides the backbone for the group's operations and organization, the incubator for its specification, as well as the development of gadgets that make use of that specification, is being hosted by the Apache Foundation.

In a blog post this morning, Google's OpenSocial product manager Dan Peterson wrote, "We're looking forward to having Yahoo users join the hundreds of millions of people who will soon enjoy OpenSocial applications. This addition means even more distribution for developers, encourages participation by even more Web sites, and, most importantly, results in more features for users all across the Web."

Peterson also acknowledged that members MySpace and orkut have already unveiled their first contributions to the OpenSocial space, and that Hi5 will be adding its first contributions as soon as next week. Hi5, incidentally, has also signed on to Microsoft's social network bridging program, also unveiled this morning.

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