Making the Google Phone, OpenSocial connection

The Google killer app everyone missed: Social mobility

Hmmmm. Let's see. Google announces a universal, flexible and "lightweight" social networking platform based on JavaScript, then two weeks later plans to announce a universal cell phone platform based on Java that Google's CEO says will feature a "new model" for people to exchange data "person-to-person."

Could it be more obvious? The Google Phone project will support, feature and emphasize OpenSocial widgets.

All this is very abstract, so let me illustrate the power of this concept with a vision of what your cell phone will be able to do:

  • Your phone's main screen shows a constantly updated "feed" that lists the "activity streams" of everyone and everything you care about, with the most recent on top. Glance at your phone and you'll see that Steve and Janet just had their baby -- it's a boy! Two minutes before that, your spouse posted a blog item (click to open and read it). Five minutes ago, today's staff meeting was rescheduled, and before that, a former co-worker got promoted (click to congratulate). These people didn't "send" the information to you. They simply "posted" it on their own favorite social networking sites. Unlike e-mail, you're in control of what you get from whom.
  • Your contacts are "linked" behind the scenes with profiles of your colleagues, family and friends. Carl gets a new cell phone number, and your phone's contacts are updated automatically. You never need to even know what people's phone numbers are. All you know is that they're correct and current all the time without any effort on your part.
  • As before, you take pictures and video with your camera phone. But now, sharing a picture or video with family and friends is a one-button item. Click and off it goes, flowing into the activity streams of your people wherever they choose to receive them -- MySpace, LinkedIn or on their cell phones.

The genius in all of this is that Google is leveraging "network effects" to catapult both its social networking and mobile initiatives into dominant positions. Google's OpenSocial leverages the company's own clout along with MySpace's sheer numbers with the innovation and niche value of all the other partners combined to dramatically increase the value of any app created using OpenSocial APIs. The number of users increases the value of OpenSocial, which attracts more users, which increases the value, which attracts more ... well, you get the idea. That's network effects in action.

Google's cell phone platform will hitch a ride on this OpenSocial craze. At the same time, the mobility of social networking widgets will make OpenSocial even more compelling, personal and addictive for users and developers alike.

Thanks to these two massively consequential Google initiatives, the world will be a better place within six months -- far more social and far more mobile. Welcome to the mobile social.

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