Business social network LinkedIn announced that they’ve turned on their OpenSocial-powered web applications platform. The site is keeping the focus strictly on business and productivity applications, and will only approve developers to even begin creating an application for the platform if their pitch meets those goals. “We are looking for applications that provide clear business utility to LinkedIn users. LinkedIn is not a place for sheep throwing,” says the page where developers can apply to gain access to the platform.
LinkedIn is initially launching with 9 applications, from partners including Google, Huddle, TripIt, Amazon, SlideShare, WordPress, SixApart, and Box.net. The apps range from a book recommendation sharing widget from Amazon, to a travel planning app from TripIt.
Perhaps the most useful launch application, from a business user standpoint, is the in-house developed Company Buzz application, which tracks buzz on Twitter around your company or competitors.
What all of these applications have in common, though, is that they assume users want to use LinkedIn as a sort of business start page. Is that actually how people use LinkedIn? Or do people use LinkedIn as an address book where they file away their internal and external business contacts? Personally, I have only every used LinkedIn for the latter, or for research about the business associations of specific people.
“My bet is that most users will opt to use the ‘pimp my profile’ type of apps first, as they require much less work to implement and fall very much within the site’s original utility of helping to attract recruiters,” writes social networking expert Steve O’Hear. “In comparison, the productivity apps require a slight shift in how users conceptualize LinkedIn, where the site moves from being a glorified rolodex to become a kind of productivity portal or start page that conveniently ties web-based apps to your existing social graph.”
Keeping the focus strictly on business and productivity may help LinkedIn avoid the noise that has led to app fatigue on Facebook and MySpace, but will users even utilize applications on LinkedIn? Applications only make sense if LinkedIn can convince people that they should start living in LinkedIn — not just visiting when they need to grab someone’s contact information and find out where they worked in the past. How do you use LinkedIn? Let us know in the comments below and by voting in our poll.