Some time in the last 12 hours or so this went live.
OpenSocial is a common API for writing social networking apps. Its being embraced by practically every single social networking site out there, with the notable exception of FaceBook. Basically the promise of this is that an application developer can write an application against one API and then deploy it in any of the compliant social networks.
FaceBook, as the current king, has the least incentive to adopt the open standard. In fact the OpenSocial API can be seen as a check to FaceBook. Its simple to understand really, in place of “Facebook” use the word “Microsoft Windows” and in place of “OpenSocial”, use “Java”. The FaceBook strategy is to add value to their platform by harnessing third party developers to write to their proprietary API. OpenSocial is a counter-strategy to that, by making a universal API that is supported by all social networking sites.
The potential fallout from a successful deployment of OpenSocial is the movement of value in the supply chain away from the social network, and towards the applications. When an app can be deployed on any social network, it doesn’t matter so much which network someone is on.
Historically, Java failed at driving a wedge between Windows and application developers. It remains to be seen whether the social networking application community will standardize on FaceBook, OpenSocial, or something else.