It took all day to get really good information, but Google announced its Friend Connect service. My impression of the announcement is best stated by the immortal words of gamers everywhere, meh. This was a strange announcement for Google. First, they leaked enough information in the days leading up that it sounded like it was going to be a huge announcement. Then the announcement was really just a press release with mention that the service would be live in the evening. Lastly, the holding page for the service returns a “Not Found Error 404” page, not even a static announcement page with some basic information. This does not seem like the normal Google.
Friend Connect Black Box
In another odd move, the Friend Connect service allows you to put a widget on your page, but you really do not have any access to the data. All of the Friend Connect “goodness” is locked up in a little iframe. That is OK for Adsense, but not for something that is supposed to be the start of the Open Social movement. There really is no “open” in Friend Connect. I like the idea of the social graph in a widget or API, but this does not seem to appeal to most people who have their own website or blog. Also, it is only available initially to a small group of people. ReadWriteWeb even wondered why Google was worried about scaling the service? Mike Gunderloy at WebWorkerDaily had the same feelings that I did. The strangest part of this whole announcement was Mashable’s coverage. As far as I can tell from the announcement, there is absolutely no reason to think the fragmentation of user’s social information is over. I do not understand how Mashable writer Stan Schroeder can come to that conclusion. Overall, the press coverage has been mixed for the overly hyped announcement.
Where is Google Mojo?
So, when did Google lose its’ mojo? The past few weeks saw two underwhelming announcements from Google which had a lot of hype. Google Reader Share notes was an OK idea but had some limitations and issues initially. Friend Connect had the potential to be something great, but fell flat. Are the recent defections hurting Google’s creativity? Or are they playing possum and just waiting to drop the big Open Social bomb on all of us? What do you think?