Friendster Launches Support For OpenSocial Apps

Friendster, the social network that has seen explosive growth in Asia but continues to lag behind Facebook and MySpace elsewhere, has launched support for OpenSocial apps on its development platform. Friendster initially launched its platform last October, but has restricted available applications to those developed especially for Friendster’s API (much as a developer would have to develop specifically for Facebook).

Beginning today, Friendster will allow developers to submit OpenSocial compliant apps (up to the .7 release of the API). These applications will all be screened and then entered into the network’s application directory (again, similar to Facebook’s). Friendster says that there will be no apparent difference to users between an OpenSocial and Friendster application.

Friendster is one of the web’s older social networks, and was once a leading player in the space, turning down an acquisition offer from Google for $30 million in 2003. Since then the company has been unable to keep up in American markets, but has done very well in Asia, with a reported 55 million users spanning the continent (they also make up 70% of the site’s registered users).

Google’s OpenSocial platform allows developers to create a a single application that will work across multiple social newtorks that support the platform’s API. Along with Friendster, other major sites that have pledged support to the platform include MySpace, Bebo, and Six Apart.

While Friendster may not be nearly as big a player as MySpace or Facebook in the United States, it still has a vast audience in Asia. Because of the minimal amount of overlap seen between Asian and American markets (Facebook and MySpace have had difficulty expanding in some portions of Asia), the site offers developers a large number of potential new users. Its addition to the OpenSocial platform puts increasing pressure on Facebook to adopt some kind of open application standard, as developers will dislike having to reprogram their applications just to run on Facebook’s closed platform.