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Google's turn: Friend Connect is live, too

Battle of the online identities gets hot. Now anyone can use Google's platform, too.

Google, likely in reaction to the official rollout of Facebook Connect, has opened up its universal log-in system, Google Friend Connect. Journalists on Thursday received a hurried e-mail saying, "Starting today, any website owner is welcome to add Friend Connect to his or her website -- no need to be whitelisted. We'll be posting on the Official Google Blog soon with additional details."

As with Facebook Connect, the advantage to users on Friend Connect sites is that they can register using a log-in that they're comfortable with and probably use every day--their Google or GMail ID and password.

Friend Connect appears somewhat easier and more straightforward to implement than Facebook Connect. Also, Friend Connect is linked to Open Social. "Any website that implements Friend Connect becomes an OpenSocial container, capable of running OpenSocial applications," the e-mail said.

Friend Connect can also update social services like Orkut and Plaxo, but nothing with the size of Facebook's network.

Google makes it easy.

I still give the nod to Facebook Connect in this stage of the battle for the ownership of online identity. I do like the Friend Connect features, but Google doesn't offer site managers the free marketing that comes with the Facebook program.