Ning Apps Bring A New Dimension Of Flexibility And Power To The Social Network Platform

Ning‘s social network-building platform is getting a huge boost today, with the private beta launch of Ning Apps, a new suite of applications and features that Network Creators will be able to deploy across their networks with only a few clicks. The news has been a long time coming – network administrators have long been asking for features that could enhance their networks. But because of the nature of Ning, which houses hundreds of thousands of unique social networks, Network Creators were often requesting totally different things. Now they’ll be able to make everyone (or nearly everyone) happy.

At launch, Ning Apps is offering 90 new features to Network creators, built by 52 different developers that encompass a wide variety of web services. Network creators will now be able to integrate live video chat through TokBox, condunct contests with Wildfire, and create Wikis. Even better: network admins will be able to easily integrate monetization options, selling merchandise through Cartfly and tickets through Amiando and other ticketing apps.

Ning is likely going to be a very enticing platform for developers, too. Unlike social networks like MySpace, when a Ning network creator chooses to deploy an application, they have the option of deploying it to all of their users at once. And with some networks reaching more than 500,000 members, that translates into a huge jump in users. The applications are based on the OpenSocial standard, with some modifications to make them suitable for network-wide deployments. Still, even these changes are pretty minor – Ning says that developers have been porting their applications from other social networks in just two to three days.

Access to applications is beginning to roll out to a small number of Network Creators tomorrow, and will be available to everyone by the end of the month. At launch, all of the applications will be free to install (though some of the apps that involve money, like Cartfly, will take a revshare at the time of transaction), but Ning may well decide to deploy premium applications in the future.

Before now Network Creators have had access to some added functionality through third party applications. But Ning didn’t support these, and some of them were eventually removed from the site entirely. CEO Gina Bianchini says that Network Creators installing applications through Ning Apps can have ‘absolute confidence’ that the applications will work as advertised.

Aside from the launch of Ning Apps, things seem to be going quite well for Ning. The site recently saw the creation of its 1 millionth network (of which 200,000 are active), and is seeing 85,000 to 100,000 new users per day across all of its networks.