Google recently announced their Friend Connect program that lets anyone with a web site paste in code that easily adds social networking features to their site. When Google does anything, you need to take a serious look at it because they’re Google.
Bear in mind that Google does a lot of things and not all of them take off, but considering the resources they bring to the table and the reach they have into all things online, the fact that they want to be at the center of social networking ubiquity is significant.
Google’s Friend Connect play only underscores recent trends that point to social networking getting woven into the very fabric of the Web.
The preeminent development platform for social networking thus far has been Facebook‘s markup language that allowed developers to play in their walled garden. But according to Jesse Farmer, developer activity at Facebook has been on the decline while at the same time, the barriers to entry have been on the incline.
At the same time, it looks like the OpenSocial API is gaining momentum while there is increasing demand from the general population for data portability. If Google’s Friend Connect takes off, the most profound effect may be the disintegration of online centers of gravity such as Facebook. If you can take your profile, friends list, and status updates wherever you go, the incentive to hang out at Facebook diminishes significantly.
This Google video shows how easy it is to implement Friend Connect on your own site: