That Linked In is to "open up" to third-party developers is not surprising. The business social network has been losing mindshare, at least in Silicon Valley, where the venture capital and entrepreneurial elites have, improbably, switched to Mark Zuckerberg's Facebook, en masse. And Facebook's initiative — allowing services such as iLike, the music recommendation system, to embed themselves deeply in its users' pages — has only enhanced the status of Zuckerberg's social network as tech's alpha startup. But here's the question: Linked In's embrace of third-party developers is a me-too move that only underlines the fear of its more rapidly growing competitor. Reid Hoffman, Linked In's chatty founder, has never been particularly strategic about communication. If it was to have made a noise about the initiative, better to have waited for the backlash against Facebook apps to gather momentum, or to have put out a spoiler announcement before Facebook's 23-year-old founder got up on stage earlier this month.