Home Liveblogging OpenSocial Foundation Call, With Commentary

Liveblogging OpenSocial Foundation Call, With Commentary

We’ll be liveblogging the press call for the OpenSocial Foundation, a joint announcement by Google, Yahoo! and MySpace’s Newscorp that we covered earlier today. It starts in just a few minutes and we’re being joined by two excellent guest commentators, tech analyst Steve Gillmor and OpenID Foundation chair Scott Kveton.

See below and refresh at will to keep up with the details announced in the call and the quick thoughts on it from our guests. Please add your own thoughts in comments, of course. Update: It was a quick call and is now over. In addition to our notes and commentary below, see our previous detailed coverage of the announcement. I thought the most important part of today’s call was the discussion about splintering the OpenSocial standard.

If you’re unfamiliar with OpenSocial, the idea is that it’s a standard platform that will let application developers build once and deploy across all supporting social network sites. Participants include almost everyone but Facebook.

The Call

Wade Chambers, VP of Platforms at Yahoo! opened the call. They will support and implement the community driven industry standards at OpenSocial, just like they support OpenID and other standards like it. Have been extremely impressed by the progress of OpenSocial, the number of containers and developers so far. A more social web will be significantly valuable for users. Not offering any specifics today but will contribute actively to development of specifications.


Joe Kraus of Google gives an overview of OpenSocial, two major containers have launched apps. Open Social reaches more than 200m users, High5 is launching next Tuesday. The open community needs a solid footing, using standard method – creating a nonprofit foundation. They are announcing intent today. It’s goal is to provide a safe harbor for Intellectual Property, to ensure free use forever and prevent too much influence from any single party.

Yahoo and Google have agreed to a patent non-assertion covenant, all contributors will throw in after Foundation is live. Google will give OpenSocial trademark and website to Foundation.

Scott Kveton from OpenID Foundation: “I think this is great – they are doing all o fthe right things with the non-assertion covenant but its another foundation. Its more work for companies to join, etc. So now you have openid, opensocial, oauth is going to have to do something, microformats, etc – this gets pretty complicated IMHO.”

Serious Apps Coming Soon, Says MySpace

Steve Pierman, SVP of products at MySpace. Says that specialization based on standards can lead to serious apps, not just “toys and widgets.” They want OpenSocial to become the defacto standard for application development.


NYT asks to what extent this is an effort to compensate for fears of Google dominance of OpenSocial?

Steve Gillmor says “The problem with Google leading this effort is that their other privacy conflicts create mistrust. Reverse engineering of social graph poisons the data Google collects and contributes to open pool.”

Answer from presenters is that this is the next logical step for OpenSocial to take.

Erick Shonfeld of TechCrunch asks why these companies and what about revenue sharing. Joe Kraus says that the whole community is expected to participate but these three companies are engaging in intellectual property protection.

Steve Gillmor says “I wonder if Microsoft was asked to participate in this announcement.”

Ars Technica (pronounced on the call, by the way, as A-R-S Technica) asks next question, it’s 2/3 new media! Ars writer asks if the Foundation will do anything to protect intellectual property on OpenSocial. Google guy says the primary IP in question is the OpenSocial code, beyond that it’s not in scope.

Eric Eldon from Venturebeat asks for numbers of users. Answer: the specification has been worked on a bunch. Orkut will go live with apps next week, too. 200 million users will be reached by all live apps. MySpace says their users are loving apps, so they’ll push them wider soon. Wade from Yahoo! says standards will make everything safer.

I asked about splintering of OpenSocial and Microsoft. Answer: diversity of actions is important, no gratuitous differences. App developers say once they have their app running on one it’s just hours of work to get it to run on the next platform. Cuts dev time from months to hours. They will standardize extensions as appropriate. Wade from Yahoo! says it’s an open standard, everyone is free to join it and should – presumably that includes Microsoft. Gillmor says, “The response to Marshall’s question left unanswered why Microsoft was not part of the foundation creation.”

And the call is over. Quick call, questions from the NYT and 4 tech blogs!

Gillmor: “The Foundation will accelerate demands for Google to be responsive for privacy violations in their attempt to reverse engineer social network out of their existing user contracts with users. Yahoo will need to address whether this alliance is designed as a poison pill for Microsoft, and if so, why this is a legitimate use of “open” standards for that purpose.”

Kveton: “Seems pretty simple. It’s a ‘good thing’ – hopefully others will agree and join in.”

Thanks everyone for joining us for the call. What do you think?

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