Well well well.... I guess we all knew Google wouldn't take kindly to the rise of Facebook, the young whippersnapper. One of the really cool things about Facebook was its open source policy, letting outside techies develop applications that Facebook users could download and share on the site - enabling real collaborative creativity and in the process contributing to its success.
Not to be outdone or out manoeuvred, 'an alliance of companies led by Google is planning to introduce a set of common standards that will let software developers write programs for Google's social network, Orkut (huge in Brazil), and others such as LinkedIn and Friendster.'
'A cross-site, open platform will, Google hopes, be more attractive to developers than Facebook, and siphon off some of the momentum from the rapidly growing site, for which more than 5,000 applications have been written since it opened its platform in May.'
So widgets (as these open applications are known) will become more and more integral to websites development and offerings. Their potential is as yet unclear but certainly huge.
Have a look at the full article from The Times