If you can't join 'em, beat 'em: this seems to be Google's rally cry, and this time its Facebook taking a potential beating. The New York Times is reporting that Google is in the process of creating an open platform to allow software developers to write widgets and full-fledged programs for Orkut. Never heard of it? It's the Google version of Facebook/MySpace. But Google decided to make it a swarming strategy; the platform will also allow development for other social media sites including Friendster, LinkedIn, Ning, Plaxo, and Facebook's arch rival, MySpace.
Facebook has built itself up as a social media contender by way of open source programming for applications within their site. Google's tactic is aimed at adopting this strategy in attempt to outdo -- or at least match -- the 5,000-plus popular apps running in Facebook, many of which are used daily by millions of Facebook members.
Understandably, Google wants a share of these eyes, and building Orkut's popularity in the United States (it's already popular in many other countries) is surely another revenue stream in which they'd like to participate. Orkut hasn't made it here, and it will be interesting to see if the open source project will ultimately be a catalyst for success or a simple band aid. Regardless of Orkut, by including so many players in campaign, it's highly unlikely Google will lose.