Word is quickly spreading that Google's OpenSocial is more of a PR triumph than engineering feat. Even partners, such as Friendster, for example, want to make sure you know that they were developing their own developer platforms well before word leaked about Google's plans. On top of that, yesterday we showed you a series of charts indicating just how insignificant many of these Google gang members are in relation to Facebook. Google apologists did not appreciate the imagery. Show us the aggregates! They demanded. Fine. Here's a new chart. But it's just going to teach you to be careful what you wish for.
So here's a new chart from Hitwise. It compares the aggregate U.S. market share of OpenSocial partners Orkut, Hi5, Friendster, Plaxo, Linkedin and Ning versus Facebook. Like what you see?
Some will object to this graph because it only covers U.S. market share. Fine, but remember that Facebook isn't an international slouch either, with 60 percent of its users based outside the U.S. and 11 million members in Canada and the U.K. alone.
And the other problem? As far as I can tell, OpenSocial does not yet interconnect social networks. So widget makers seeking a U.S. audience — the one advertisers today are most willing to pay for — won't get the kind of viral growth they can on Facebook. Their apps will be stranded on small islands, without the critical mass that causes the rapid spread some Facebook apps have seen.
Apologists will continue to hype OpenSocial, arguing that Google Gang users, in aggregrate, will lure developers away from the Facebook platform or at least weaken Facebook's hold on them. But the looks of these charts, do you see that happening?