Why Google launched OpenSocial
Tuesday, November 6, 2007 by Dave Winer.
Today's announcement from Facebook is the reason why Google announced OpenSocial last week. They must have gotten a leak from one of the companies that stood with Facebook, so they knew what was coming. They weren't scared of Facebook's technology, because they didn't respond with technology. They were scared because Facebook has a better advertising story than Google does. They are getting ready to offer some very premium web real estate that (pay attention now) Google can't compete with. And advertising is Google's bread and butter, advertising is to Google as operating systems are to Microsoft. They can't let somebody appear to be better than they are in advertising. Yet that's what Facebook is, better than Google in advertising.
Let's say I bought a Wii and I like it. They can tell all my friends "Dave bought a Wii and he likes it." That's a lot more likely to result in a sale than an intrusive ad like this one, that was displayed next to an email I sent to some friends about their New Networked Living Room. Google thinks I might want to buy Moroccan Lamps, or something called a Unique Shabby Chic (huh?) or Crate & Barrell bedroom furniture. Of course I tune that shit out, I don't even see it. It has zero impact.
Anyway, I was talking with Doc Searls a few minutes ago and he mentioned OpenSocial and I told him it was just a lot of noise meant to distract people from what Facebook was doing in advertising. He hadn't heard anything about it even though he was at a tech conference in Denver today and yesterday. I said there you go, Google's strategy worked. But to no effect, longterm, because Facebook has the momentum and Google, try as hard as they want to stop it, will not be able to, any more than Alta Vista or Infoseek were able to stop Google once they figured out that their lunch was eaten. Google will be around for a long time, I'm not saying they will go away, but Facebook will be around too. And Google will have a hard time catching up to them.
Long-term, however they both have problems because advertising is on its way to being obsolete. Facebook is just another step along the path. Advertising will get more and more targeted until it disappears, because perfectly targeted advertising is just information. And that's good!
8/3/06: "Information is welcome, advertising is offensive."