OpenSocial is gaining some steam. In addition to Yahoo deciding to join the effort, hi5 is going to actually launch its developer platform based on OpenSocial on March 31. The big draw for developers will be to expand their reach globally. Hi5 is the third-largest social network in the world with 38 million unique monthly visitors. While both MySpace and Facebook each boast more than 100 million unique users per month (all numbers are from comScore), Hi5 reaches some different markets. It is especially strong in Mexico and Latin America, Portugal, and Thailand. As an incentive for Web developers to create apps for hi5, CEO Ramu Yalamanchi says:
For the first 100 apps, we are going to provide free hosting and translate them.
As with Facebook apps, developers will be able to place their own ads on the “canvas’ page that hosts the app. And they will be able to tap into the notifications, invites, messages, and friend updates on hi5 to try to make their app go viral.
By adopting OpenSocial, hi5 is hoping to make it it easy for developers to port their apps to or from other OpenSocial Websites (which will include MySpace, Bebo, Friendster, LinkedIn, Ning, Six Apart, and many others). Of course, OpenSocial has to get through its growing pains first. Yalamanchi notes:
The development of OpenSocial may have initially looked a little messy, but it is evolving to a point where there is a solid foundation.
To get things going, hi5 is hosting two simultaneous hackathons on March 15. One will be at the Googleplex in California, and the other will be at a university in Mexico. For more details on the hi5 platform, developers can go here.