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Google moves into social networking with OpenSocial

Google has unveiled details about its plans to take on Facebook with the launch of a new social networking project, which it will link with a range of other networks including business-focused sites. The company is working on a cross-platform project named OpenSocial, which will work across a number of social networking sites including LinkedIn, Plaxo, and Google's own Orkut service. Other confirmed partners for the project include Hi5, iLike and Oracle. The two biggest players in the sector, Facebook and MySpace, are not taking part. OpenSocial is an attempt to break down the barriers between social networking services -- all of which have a different way of storing and using visitor data. Google's cross-platform initiative will allow web developers to build a standard set of applications that will work across these sites. The OpenSocial technology will also allow user data and friend lists to pass more freely between sites. This could prove a more attractive proposition for both advertisers and web developers looking to reach a wider audience. The move comes five months after Facebook began allowing outside developers to build add-ons for the site, which users can choose to embed into their profiles. News Corp-owned rival site MySpace followed suit in October. However, neither of these tailor-made applications work outside of the sites for which they were designed. Meanwhile, Google has sent an email mailshot to Facebook application developers inviting them to take part in a beta test, which would allow developers to embed Google Adwords into their work. Google's share price hit a new high yesterday, breaking the $700 (£350) mark less than a month after it broke $600. Its $707 price values the San Francisco web giant at nearly $220bn -- a significant improvement on the company's initial $100 share price when it first floated on the Nasdaq stock exchange in August 2004.

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