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I guess I'm a little surprised by the tenor of the comments; this isn't primarily about G+ and Facebook. The issue is: is it critical to Google to have a foundational platform on which its various products run and the discipline to use it? Yegge uses G+ as an example but argues that this should be a full implementation so that Chrome SOA layer is the same layer used by Gmail & Android. Will Google be able to better focus their energies on search and driving people to their web tools (Chrome Browser & Android) by allowing external access to their APIs to extend their platform? Yegge answers yes and I would agree. Whether G+ coexists with Facebook (as I believe) or G+ "wins" or "loses" against Facebook is a separate issue.
2 years, 5 months ago on Google Engineer: "Google+ is a Prime Example of Our Complete Failure to Understand Platforms"
Some great insights here. Allowing 3rd party extensions of your product is a primary way to allow it to grow in ways you can't anticipate. Care is needed, as vayapues1 notes, about not letting your focus become diffused. There should be some vetting of how the platform is used. The whole point of creating the platform, however, is so that you may remain focused on your core mission while others extend your product. You don't need to commit Yahoo's mistake of being all things to all people because you're not doing it, 3rd party developers are. Moreover, you can manage the process of growth through the vetting process.