Launched in May 2008, amidst Google’s Open Social drive, Google Friend Connect’s primary focus is to simplify adding social elements to any website. By installing Google Friend Connect, site owners can add social networking like features to their sites in a matter of minutes without any programming know how.
Using a blend of open standards, Friend Connect offers social applications and content from Hi5, Orkut, Plaxo, MySpace, Google Talk, Netlog and other social networks neatly packages into simple to install social site plugins.
While Friend Connect has been recently been drowned by the interest in Google Wave, the elevent person team based in Cambridge Massachusetts have continued to push out updates. In an interview with project lead Sami Shalabi, he is quoted as saying the product has reached over 8 million monthly users (that’s websites) a month and “hundreds of millions of web pages”.
These efforts include deep integration with WordPress blogs allowing visitors authenticate using any OpenID account, including Google, Yahoo, or AIM and then comment on posts without having to register.
In April, Google also enabled Friend Connect by default on Blogger, immediately making the world’s seventh largest site social.
Friend Connect is now localized into 56+ languages and with an API recently released too, any passionate developer can add features to the product.
Google Friend Connect appears to be the belt that holds Google’s various social web efforts together. Efforts that include Google Reader sharing, Social Search and Google Profiles to name a few. Many expect all to tie in neatly with Friend Connect creating a surmountable competitor to Facebook’s social crown.