October 07, 2008

With Facebook Connect, Google Has Unique Integration Opportunity

By Jesse Stay of Stay N' Alive (Identi.ca/FriendFeed)

In working with Google FriendConnect recently, I realized that Google has a unique opportunity that perhaps they did not have previously. In only the last few months, Facebook has opened up the opportunity for any 3rd party site to integrate with Facebook, all via a special login button and form Facebook provides. Such technology is enabled through a product Facebook calls Facebook Connect. In playing with Google's product, it enables one to authenticate through other services and allow porting of friend data and more through its FriendConnect interface. I believe Google now may just have the unique opportunity to finally integrate Facebook as they wanted to before.

Several months back, Google attempted to launch FriendConnect with Facebook as one of the launch partners. Facebook quickly pulled Google's app from the Facebook App Store because they claimed it breached the Facebook Terms of Service. Google denied they were doing such, but Facebook insisted, keeping Google from being able to integrate with Facebook. It's unclear what exactly Facebook was claiming Google had done wrong, but it appeared to be some sort of backdoor technique to obtain user information.

Enter Facebook Connect

Several months later, Facebook launched their somewhat competing product, Facebook Connect. Facebook Connect does not integrate with other sites, but does integrate with OpenID similar to the way Google FriendConnect does, and enables you to through simple javascript, allow others to login and integrate their Facebook friends right on their own website.

Because FriendConnect is specific to Facebook, Google could now have just the opportunity to integrate Facebook the way they wanted to. Now, Google simply, and legally, should be able to implement a simple Facebook Connect login button into their user settings interface, let the user log into Facebook, and automatically Google would now have full access to the Facebook API from a third party site as they were trying to do before. Google can now enter in through the front door.

Not only that, but Facebook now allows site owners to identify existing accounts with existing Facebook accounts that have the same e-mail address. If Google were to collect the user's Facebook e-mail, or use their existing assuming it's the same as their Gmail address, they could then identify existing Friends on Google that also have Facebook accounts, allow you to link into them, invite them to begin using your FriendConnect-enabled site, and more.

Why Google has not yet implemented this is beyond me. Perhaps they already have and we are just waiting for Facebook to fully lift the Sandbox they have in place for developers right now. Regardless, I am willing to bet that Facebook integration into Google FriendConnect is coming very soon because of these features. Expect it to come in the form of Facebook Connect.

Read more by Jesse Stay at Stay N' Alive.