Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Open Platforms

You're sure this is going to be about Facebook, right?

Not so much, though Facebook is definitely the inspiration. Actually my quandary has more to do with the two 800 lb. gorillas in the web space. Specifically, why don't they open up a "platform," or at least something resembling one?

Really, all the Facebook platform does is two things: 1) it lets you log on to other websites using your Facebook login and put some self-expressive/marginally useful widget on your profile, and 2) it give third party applications certain information that Facebook has collected to enhance the application quality and experience.

Well, minus the profile widgets, can't Yahoo and Google do the same? Personally, Google knows a ton about me - my contacts, my searches, the ads I've clicked on, and probably more stuff that I don't want to even know they know. So, why not open up a platform?

Hell, it could be as easy as letting third party websites authenticate users via their Google/Yahoo log in, a little bit like the login process of websites that have been bought by either of the two (Blogger, Flickr, etc.). How cool would it be to be able to try out new websites without having to go through the annoying sign-up/verification? Maybe that particular feature is targeted more at the early adopter crowd, but I'm sure the geniuses at those companies can come up with a compelling list of benefits for the average user.

I mean, say, all of a sudden, you could log on to any website with your Yahoo email address and password. I haven't touched my Yahoo account in years, but I'd dust it off if it could all of a sudden get me access to every site on the web. And maybe they could negotiate putting a Yahoo ad next to the log in box on every page.

It's a little easier said then done, but maybe one of the big boys will have the cojones to try something crazy...


  1. Great idea. But if you're a web developer, and you all of a sudden can put up your own login, yahoo's login, and/or Google's login. What do you do? In all probability, you put up all three. Does that simplify things or make it more complicated? I think I agree with you in that people could stop signing up for so many different sites. I think I have at least 100 different user names and passwords at this point

  2. That's what OpenID is supposed to be all about, but it appears to be drowning in complexity and lack of adoption. I'd rather just have a "dashboard" that lets me manage all my accounts, profiles, etc.

  3. hey ravi, although I certainly believe there is a lot of hype around FB apps at the moment, I'm unsure of the statment. "minus the profile widgets, can't Yahoo and Google do the same?".

    FB apps allows access to the 'social graph', who knows how, something that yahoo/google can't really do with their platform at the moment. OpenID is a solution to the profile overload issue today, but still FB will have access to that social graph which will make it attractable to social applications.