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Google to offer a facebook like platform for developers

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"Google Inc will offer Internet developers an open system to create applications across Web sites, a move that could challenge the features behind the explosive popularity of social network Facebook.
The OpenSocial system offered by Google, which lost out last week to rival Microsoft Corp in securing an investment in Facebook, gives developers standardized tools to write applications and embed them in many sites.
This will eliminate the need for small startups or even one-person shops to customize their programs for each site.
It also has the potential to lure developers mostly allied with Facebook by allowing their applications to find a home on many other Web sites.
"This is about making the Web more social; how do you have your friends go along with you to any site on the Web?" Joe Kraus, Google director of product management, said in an interview on Tuesday.
In May, Facebook opened its site to outside developers whose programs let users do everything from comparing favorite books to buying friends a virtual cocktail or mapping travels around the world.
Thousands of applications have since been attached to the site and are credited with helping Facebook -- valued at about $15 billion after the Microsoft investment -- to increase its user base to more than 48 million.
Google said it has signed on about a dozen partners so far, including social network LinkedIn for business professionals, its own Orkut network and Friendster. The sites combined reach about 100 million people, the company said.
Developers who are testing the program include key companies behind Facebook applications, such as music recommendation service iLike and Slide, which created the "Top Friends" ranking application.
Industry blogs have speculated for nearly a month that Web search leader Google was seeking to unleash a major challenge to Facebook, which is due to announce its own new advertising strategy on November 6. "

courtesy, Michele Gershberg of Reuters

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