Imagine you're Google. King of the hill, top of the tree. But then along comes this young upstart called Facebook, which begins to step on your toes.

Everybody likes this young upstart, giving it daily information about their lives. Information that should be yours. So what do you do? You imitate it. And that's what's happening. Google is about to launch a platform that's set to follow in the footsteps of the successful Facebook ecosystem.

OpenSocial takes on Facebook

The new system is going to be called OpenSocial. And Google has signed up some pretty interesting people to take part, including smaller social networking players such as Friendster and Orkut plus business networking sites such as LinkedIn and Plaxo. Also involved are other players such as Xing and Newsgator.

As OpenSocial's name suggests, the platform will provide API's for any developer to create social applications. The idea is that any website will be able to implement these apps. And Google has been busy chatting to those behind some of the most popular Facebook apps such as iLike and Flixster.

Google's idea seems to be that by spreading social networking across the web, it can erode some of the duopoly held by MySpace and Facebook as they battle each other. MySpace sees Facebook's add-in apps as a significant enough threat to its own service that it has decided to enable third-party apps.

While it would seem a little early to be talking about the downfall of either platform, enabling users to take and incorporate apps into their own websites and blogs could provide significant long-term appeal.