Recently Google have announced that they will be changing the way they allow other sites to access their Contacts API to download contact data.
Currently Google allows other sites to access their data, which then allows you to import your contacts’ email addresses to the new service. This enables you to find your contacts in the new service at a much easier and faster rate, which in turn also means that the new service has details of your existing social graph from Google.
The tweak to Google’s Terms of Service states that they will allow access to their Contacts API only if the data allowance is reciprocated, meaning that Facebook is now banned from accessing this key social graph information.
What does this mean to you? Well most internet savvy people will already have a Facebook account, and if you haven’t already imported your contacts, then you will be spending some time typing your friends emails into the search bar to look for them, right? Wrong! Facebook has the functionality for you to search for friends by their name, see a list of ‘people you may know’, and you can simply add people through a friend you have already added’s list of friends.
What about the implications for Facebook ? Well simply put, they can still acquire details from other existing sources such as Yahoo! and Hotmail, and if they wanted they could build a separate functionality for you to upload contacts from a spreadsheet (which is a format that Google allows you to export data to). Now for Google, what does this mean? Pretty much the same as Facebook, but it does go slightly against their policy of an open system. However has Google really lost much information?
Google recently acquired ITA Software, the company behind 65% of all carrier direct online flight searches. Some speculation has arisen that this could spell the end of the competitive online travel sales industry as most travel searches start within Google. If Google has the power to direct you to which carrier you should purchase from then the competitive edge is diluted (along with other travel information such as hotels, other user experiences and feedback).
Furthermore if Google decides to provide a service that allows you to purchase flights and hotel bookings directly through them via Google Checkout, then it will only be a matter of minutes before they can track where your interests lie in terms of travelling. How does this make you feel in terms of invasion of privacy? It sure makes smaller things like 4Square and Google/Facebook Places seem like trivial matters now. However if you are in the travel industry, it could mean that it may be time to look for ways into Google’s good books so that they will push your travel routes!