August 3, 2012, 12:49 PM

A Google+ exec jabs at Facebook

He says Google’s social network wants to help developers, unlike its rival.

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Facebook Inc. lets developers write programs that leverage data from the social network, for example, allowing a retail web site show a Facebook user items her friends have Liked. Developers access Facebook data through a software conduit known as an application programming interface, or API. In contrast, at Google Inc. an executive says the Google+ social network is not yet ready to offer a similar API—but when it is, its API will be better for developers than Facebook’s.

“I get a lot of heat for not releasing a full write API for Google+,” said Vic Gundotra, Google senior vice president of engineering, in a post on the Google+ social network. “At [the South by Southwest Interactive Festival] I was even booed by developers in the audience when I said we were not ready to open an API. I've repeatedly stated the reason–I'm not interested in screwing over developers.”

The post was a jab at Facebook that pointed to recent criticism of Facebook’s API policies.  

Web developer Dalton Caldwell this week posted an open letter to Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg on his web site. The letter claims that Facebook executives told him that the mobile application he was building using Facebook’s API was competitive with products in Facebook’s App Center. The executives, he wrote, offered to acquire his company or, if he declined, suggested the company would fail against the social network’s offerings. 

“I quickly became skeptical and explained that I was not interested in an acqui-hire,” he wrote. “I said that if Facebook wanted to have a serious conversation about acquiring my team and product, I would entertain the idea. Otherwise, I had zero interest in seeing my product shut down and joining Facebook.”

Because of his discomfort with Facebook’s stance, Caldwell shut down his application. The move, he suggested, was due to Facebook’s evolving business model that now seeks to generate revenue through its App Center. 

Gundotra posted a link to the letter on Google+. His post suggests that Google is still working out a way to offer an API that provides benefits to Google and developers. 

“When we open an API, we want developers to feel confident that the innovations they build are going to be long lasting,” he wrote. “Releasing an API and then later changing the rules of the game isn't fun for anyone, especially developers who've spent their life's energies building on the platform.”

Facebook could not be reached for immediate comment. 

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