MySpace will soon be sharing its space with outside developers. The popular social-networking site said Wednesday that developers can register now for access to its platform, which it will make available on Feb. 5.

The move comes as social-networking sites are competing for position even as they are sharing their platforms. According to news reports, the MySpace platform will address some of the issues raised by the platform already offered for third-party developers from rival Facebook, including who owns what, how developers can make money, and privacy for users.

The platform launch and development will be supervised by newly appointed Chief Operating Officer Amit Kapur. He was previously vice president of business Relevant Products/Services development, overseeing the MySpace Mobile product as well as such initiatives as the company's globalization strategy.

Data Portability

Last November, MySpace joined with Google to launch OpenSocial, a set of common APIs (application programming interfaces) to allow social applications to run on supporting sites. "This," said MySpace CEO Chris DeWolfe at the time, "is about helping the start-up spend more time building a great product rather than rebuilding it for every social network."

The OpenSocial standards, which are expected to be implemented in MySpace's platform, are also supported by such sites as Friendster, LinkedIn, Plaxo, Salesforce Relevant Products/Services.com, Six Apart and others.

Even as MySpace moves to open its platform, Facebook and others are moving toward "data Relevant Products/Services portability" for information relating to users. Earlier this month, Facebook announced it was joining with Google and fellow social-networking site Plaxo in the DataPortability Workshop.

The Workshop says portability allows users "to access their friends and media across all the applications, social-networking sites and widgets that implement the design into their systems."

Phases for the Social Graph

Forrester analyst Jeremiah Owyang expects that, with such data portability and interoperable platforms, the ecosystem will now go through several phases, starting with widgets deployed on other sites that tie into, say, Facebook's or MySpace's "social graph" of user paths and data. Eventually, he said, users' social graphs will be completely portable, so users can move from site to site with their own data and networks, "like a Rolodex."

He sees a "huge opportunity" for business sites, among others, which could begin to support visits by self-contained customers or vendors who come with their own, intact identity and social network, allowing them to easily make comments and interact with each other without having to register again on each site.

Owyang also expects MySpace to correct two mistakes Facebook made. For one thing, he predicted that MySpace may set up its own ad network for developers, so that developers have a clear revenue mechanism and MySpace gets a cut. He also expects MySpace to avoid the user-experience mistakes that Facebook made, such as the storm about privacy issues resulting from the first incarnation of their "social advertising" program.