Yahoo!, MySpace, and Google announced they have agreed to form the OpenSocial Foundation to ensure the neutrality and longevity of OpenSocial as an open, community-governed specification for building social applications across the web. Yahoo!'s support of OpenSocial and role as a founding member of the new foundation are landmarks for the rapidly growing specification which will now offer developers the potential to connect with more than 500 million people worldwide.
The OpenSocial Foundation will be an independent non-profit entity with a formal intellectual property and governance framework; related assets will be assigned to the new organization by July 1, 2008. The foundation will provide transparency and operational guidelines around technology, documentation, intellectual property, and other issues related to the evolution of the OpenSocial platform, while also ensuring all stakeholders share influence over its future direction.
"Yahoo! believes in supporting community-driven industry specifications and expects that OpenSocial will fuel innovation and make the web more relevant and more enjoyable to millions of users," said Wade Chambers, Vice President Platforms, Yahoo!. "Our support builds on similar efforts with the OpenID community and will expand the opportunity for developers and publishers to benefit from an open and increasingly social web."
"OpenSocial has been a community-driven specification from the beginning," said Joe Kraus, Director of Product Management, Google. "The formation of this foundation will ensure that it remains so in perpetuity. Developers and websites should feel secure that OpenSocial will be forever free and open."
The OpenSocial Foundation website at www.opensocial.org will serve as the portal for the community to find all information about OpenSocial and the foundation as they evolve. Developers and website owners can now visit www.opensocial.org for the latest specifications, links to other resources, and the opportunity to get involved.
Engineers from Yahoo!, MySpace, and Google will continue to work together and with the OpenSocial community to further advance the specification through the new foundation, continuing several core elements of OpenSocial since its announcement by Google, MySpace, and many others in November 2007:
* all specifications are available under a Creative Commons copyright license
* public community involvement shapes the specification's direction
* an open source reference implementation called Shindig is being created and developed as a project in the Apache Software Foundation incubator, available at http://incubator.apache.org/shindig/
OpenSocial addresses an emerging problem for developers who are eagerly building applications people can enjoy with their friends: before OpenSocial, if a developer built a "favorite photos" application to work on one social network, it would have to be built all over again to work on another site. OpenSocial tackles this problem at its technology roots, providing common "plumbing" that lets social applications run on many different websites without requiring duplicate work from either developers or the websites.
The result is a vast distribution platform for social applications, whether they are for sharing photos or playing games or arranging real-world meetings or any number of other activities -- everything is more fun, interesting, and useful when users can involve their friends and contacts.
Steady Evolution, Important Milestones
Millions of people around the world are beginning to see the benefits of the OpenSocial platform as new features appear on their favorite social networks. MySpace launched the MySpace Developer Platform, which uses the OpenSocial APIs, and began rolling out applications to its users. orkut has also started making OpenSocial applications available to its users, and hi5 will do so at the end of March.
Thanks to the Shindig reference implementation, most websites can have a proof of concept of OpenSocial applications up and running in days. That means websites need only to make this small time investment in order to make thousands of new social features available to their users.
Global members of the OpenSocial community include Engage.com, Friendster, hi5, Hyves, imeem, LinkedIn, Ning, Oracle, orkut, Plaxo, Salesforce.com, Six Apart, Tianji, Viadeo, XING, and others. In time, OpenSocial will unlock more powerful and pervasive social capabilities across the entire web, as developers' applications can easily reach users across any of the websites, web applications, or social networks they use.