The Facebook Open Platform is finally available a year after they announced it to developers. Back then, it was heralded as "Anti-MySpace" by opening up APIs to third party developers where MySpace had been closed. Opening up any platform to a multitude of application developers is a two-edged sword. Many users' affection for the novel applications wear off and they begin to tire of the excessive spam associated with their promotion. Facebook says more than 24,000 applications have been built by over 400,000 developers. Google's OpenSocial took a different track by not requiring a special markup language (Facebook uses FBML) and that makes development much easier. Key partners for OpenSocial are AOL, Yahoo, Myspace, LinkedIN, Orkut, Salesforce.com, Plaxo and many others. The New York Times even uses it to allow users the ability to share articles with friends in their social graph.
As mentioned here before, the key to success with social networking "openness" will be the ability to federate user privacy, profiles, preferences and the whole dimension of data and application portability. A new twist on social networking and a company thinking a little different is SkyDeck. They allow you to turn your phone bill into a map of your social network. The APIs utilize OAuth for secure API authentication and they've come out of the gate with a developer kit even though they are in closed beta. Is everyone racing for the bottom yet?