The coming G/Y/M/A/e developer wars

We (Maryam, Patrick, and I) had a wonderful breakfast with Chandu Thota. He’s a developer lead on Virtual Earth Microsoft’s Windows Live Local service. You know, Microsoft’s Mapping Service (why can’t they name things simply at Microsoft? If I could figure that one out I’d probably be running marketing). On his “20% time” nights and weekends he also does the very cool FeedMap which lets bloggers find other bloggers near them.

Anyway, at one point while we were munching food at the Brown Bag Cafe in Redmond (our favorite breakfast place) we got in a creative mood and we started throwing around ideas of things we’d like.

That’s not the important thing I took away from this conversation, but listening to how a developer thinks when in a creative conversation is very interesting. One idea he threw out was that he wanted to crawl all the blogs, look for commonalities, then spit them back to a box that I’d put on my blog. Something like Amazon’s “you may be interested in these items” feature, but for blogs.

Note the developer’s impulse, especially from someone who is adept at building Web Services. He wants to put a bunch of data into a database in the cloud, analyze it, add value to that analysis, and spit it back out to bloggers everywhere.

This isn’t the first time I’ve heard this pattern. At BARcamp, MindCamp, FooCamp, and at Dave Winer’s house, I’ve heard this same pattern over and over again.

Yeah, the details vary. Some developers want to study weather info. Some want to mash up ticket selling services and find you better ticket prices. Some want to take real estate data, mash it up with mapping data, and spit it back at you. Etc. Etc. Etc. Just watch TechCrunch to see daily examples of this.

But, what are the common things these developers all need:

1) They need a freaking fast distribution platform. Er, a set of server farms around the world. Why? Well if that little Internet component that Chandu’s thinking of slows down my blog I’m going to get rid of it. And so will every other user around the world. Delivery speed is job #1 in this new world. It better work in London, Chennai, Tokyo, Shanghai, and Cape Town, the same way it does in San Francisco.

2) They need a shitload of storage space. Yes, that’s a technical term. :-) You try crawling 100 million blogs and see what kind of index it builds for you. Let’s just round up to “a terabyte.” Can you afford to buy a terabyte in storage space to scratch your developer itch? Chandu can’t.

3) They need an API. Something simple to spit data in, and suck data out. REST seems to be the one of choice lately.

4) It needs to be cheap. Um, free if possible. At least if you want Chandu to be able to build it, deploy it, and have it survive its first exposure on DIGG. If Chandu starts making revenue then you can get him to give you a cut, but the startup costs need to be near zero so that the developer “itch” can be scratched. Guys like Chandu (and most of the other geeks I know) don’t have much money to buy access to services.

What was Chandu’s first impulse at breakfast? To use Amazon’s S3 service.

But, that made me wonder why Microsoft isn’t seizing this opportunity now. Microsoft has been stunningly successful by simply catering to developer’s needs.

The fact that one of its own engineers is feeling an impulse that can’t be satisfied on Microsoft’s own server farms is telling. And should be keeping Microsoft’s executives awake at night.

We talked about the fact that only big companies will be able to deliver #1 and #4. #2 is actually pretty easy to do for a small company, but if you want your app to be distributed around the world it takes some resources and to both of us that will mean developers will be attracted to Google/Microsoft/Amazon/Yahoo/eBay.

So, let’s go through the players one-by-one.

Google. Google has some daunting advantages in the coming developer wars. First, nearly EVERY developer I know uses Google. Most use Gmail. Most use Firefox (which really is a Google-friendly browser). A large percentage use Google Maps. The fact that Microsoft has ceded the influential geeks over to Google is going to pay off big time for Google. I’ll bet this is why Vic Gundotra decided to go over to Google (he still hasn’t told me what he’s gonna do at Google or why he left Microsoft, but I can read the tea leaves).

Yahoo. Yahoo has the social software world, which will be its key card that it can use to stay in the game. Whenever I meet a developer I ask him or her about the services they use. Invariably the names Flickr and Del.icio.us come up. If Yahoo can figure out how to use these two developer touch points to get developers to come over and build things on its system, it’ll see wins. That said, I’ve been doing a lot of surveying of user behavior lately. When I hang out with developers they use Google as their search engine. When I hang out in places that have more “normal” users, they are heavier Yahoo and MSN and AOL users. So, Yahoo isn’t seen as “geeky” as Google, which might hurt their position. Yahoo will need to bring something dramatic to the table to get geeks to pay attention. If they just match Google’s offerings, the geeks will just stay with Google.

Microsoft. Microsoft has a huge number of developers but those developers are skilled at building Visual Basic apps for businesses. They don’t think a lot about the Web. The ones who’ve decided to spread their wings generally switch over to a Google mindset instead of switching over to a Microsoft mindset. But, Microsoft can always get back in the game. They are investing big time in both marketing initiatives (Mix, Channel 9, On10.net) and have some really interesting stuff coming. While at breakfast Scott Guthrie, general manager inside Microsoft’s developer division came over (I’m going to miss living in the Redmond area) and said he wanted to show me some cool new Web developer initiatives they will soon launch. Not so secret weapons? Ray Ozzie. Scott Isaacs. Google should have hired Scott when it had the chance. Scott has some stuff cooking that’ll keep Larry and Sergey (and MarkL and VicG) up at night.

Amazon. Amazon is out in the lead right now with S3. Will the rest let them keep that position for long? No. Some other advantages Amazon has? Great community, loyal — and buying — customers who’ll buy other new things offered on Amazon’s site. A great affiliate model and system (bloggers get paid everytime they send customers to Amazon).

eBay. They have Lenn Pryor. Seriously what they have is the largest buying and selling community out there. And they have Skype, which hasn’t made sense yet. But, Skype built a great P2P system. What’s the hardest thing for developers to do? Get huge amounts of data around the world without paying for it. Hmmmm, if the dev team that did Skype could do something innovative here that would absolutely rock. But, let’s assume that the Skype team isn’t gonna do anything. Well, eBay still has learned a TON about keeping its Web system up and running. That wouldn’t be hard to turn into a set of services that developers could use for other purposes.

My money? It’s on Google. Why? Cause I go back to the developers. Right now they are more likely to use Google’s stuff than any other — you should see how developers and geeks talk about all these companies. So, unless Google does something evil to piss developers off, or don’t deliver the long-rumored GDrive soon, it’s their game to lose.

That said, don’t bet out the other players. They are all trying to figure out where the value will come in this chain.

Anything I haven’t thought about? How do you see the coming Internet Developer Wars playing out?

Update: Nik Cubrilovic stands up for smaller companies (like the one he started, Omnidrive) that are doing the same thing, but are shipping now.

Comments

  1. I see ACCESS as one of the key differentiators – not just that I have access to a large drive, and API, a huge pipe, etc – but that the access is distributed appropriately. I see a couple of campanies making huge moves in this area – ditributed data centers that are strategically placed to minimize latency, ensure up-time (not build in hurricane or earthquake zomes), cost effective to run (not in areas where electricity is at a premium – cheaper power is better). Basically I see a new paradigm where even extremely huge companies will be operating a large-scale mesh-like network, on what would today be considered Biblical scales.

    Why? You #1, 2, and 4 above. Data can be moved most cheaply if it’s hosted cheaply, moved cheaply and and redundantly duplicated as possible.

    Who’s doing this now? I know MS and Google are. Who’s investing the most? I think Microsoft (believe it or not). Who will win – the little developer, rolling out the next YouTube Hit, or Digg-dugged application that would put their application offline in minutes – were it not for these decentralized data farms.

  2. I see ACCESS as one of the key differentiators – not just that I have access to a large drive, and API, a huge pipe, etc – but that the access is distributed appropriately. I see a couple of campanies making huge moves in this area – ditributed data centers that are strategically placed to minimize latency, ensure up-time (not build in hurricane or earthquake zomes), cost effective to run (not in areas where electricity is at a premium – cheaper power is better). Basically I see a new paradigm where even extremely huge companies will be operating a large-scale mesh-like network, on what would today be considered Biblical scales.

    Why? You #1, 2, and 4 above. Data can be moved most cheaply if it’s hosted cheaply, moved cheaply and and redundantly duplicated as possible.

    Who’s doing this now? I know MS and Google are. Who’s investing the most? I think Microsoft (believe it or not). Who will win – the little developer, rolling out the next YouTube Hit, or Digg-dugged application that would put their application offline in minutes – were it not for these decentralized data farms.

  3. Oh – sorry about the typos and such – first, as long as people can understand what I mean, I really don’t care. Second, I was on my cellphone, and even though it has a QWERTY keyboard, I have fatter fingers than it has buttons. Last time I’ll apologize for my spelling. It’s a blog comment, not a professional paper (ok, Bruce, stop riding me about spelling!!!)

  4. Oh – sorry about the typos and such – first, as long as people can understand what I mean, I really don’t care. Second, I was on my cellphone, and even though it has a QWERTY keyboard, I have fatter fingers than it has buttons. Last time I’ll apologize for my spelling. It’s a blog comment, not a professional paper (ok, Bruce, stop riding me about spelling!!!)

  5. I can’t see any of the big companies being close to releasing anything good any time soon. As usual, the innovation in the early periods of this market will come from the startups.

    At Omnidrive our API is currently in private beta. We have a few dozen developers building apps using it right now, and we will be releasing it to the public in the coming weeks. Our storage API is much more than just PUT a file and GET a file, it allows the developer to manage users, set pricing, deal with different types of content and most importantly our API developers can have their own customers (or users) use the Omnidrive desktop tools (now available on almost every platform) to easily modify and access this data.

    We understand what developers need from an API, and we are the only provider that I know of that is tackling the issue of allowing 3rd party apps to access private and sensitive data securely without compromising the users account details. In terms of our backend, we already in 3 locations and we plan to roll out to more and more.

    Feel free to email me if you would like more info on our API or would like to try it out.

  6. I can’t see any of the big companies being close to releasing anything good any time soon. As usual, the innovation in the early periods of this market will come from the startups.

    At Omnidrive our API is currently in private beta. We have a few dozen developers building apps using it right now, and we will be releasing it to the public in the coming weeks. Our storage API is much more than just PUT a file and GET a file, it allows the developer to manage users, set pricing, deal with different types of content and most importantly our API developers can have their own customers (or users) use the Omnidrive desktop tools (now available on almost every platform) to easily modify and access this data.

    We understand what developers need from an API, and we are the only provider that I know of that is tackling the issue of allowing 3rd party apps to access private and sensitive data securely without compromising the users account details. In terms of our backend, we already in 3 locations and we plan to roll out to more and more.

    Feel free to email me if you would like more info on our API or would like to try it out.

  7. Can’t afford a terabyte to play with? C’mon. Might have other toys to buy maybe, but I can go over to NewEgg right now and buy a terabyte of local storage for $450. I can go to ServerBeach and get a Win2K3 Web server with 800GB of storage for around $350 a month. Not a movie and a coke price, but not unaffordable for a working developer. And that’s without shopping around, so I expect I’m missing the cheapest prices.

    Yeah, yeah, everyone wants to scratch their itch for free. But $4K a year isn’t unreasonable to bootstrap a new idea if you really think it has promise. And if it doesn’t have $4K worth of promise, maybe you shouldn’t inflict it on the world.

  8. Can’t afford a terabyte to play with? C’mon. Might have other toys to buy maybe, but I can go over to NewEgg right now and buy a terabyte of local storage for $450. I can go to ServerBeach and get a Win2K3 Web server with 800GB of storage for around $350 a month. Not a movie and a coke price, but not unaffordable for a working developer. And that’s without shopping around, so I expect I’m missing the cheapest prices.

    Yeah, yeah, everyone wants to scratch their itch for free. But $4K a year isn’t unreasonable to bootstrap a new idea if you really think it has promise. And if it doesn’t have $4K worth of promise, maybe you shouldn’t inflict it on the world.

  9. Mike: you solved #2, but not #1.

    And, sorry, if your service is cool it’ll get on Tech Crunch and Dugg and then hundreds of thousands of people will show up within the first week.

    If you don’t plan for scale you’ll be out of business right away.

    Oh, and if your service is ever slow bloggers won’t even consider putting your stuff on their pages.

  10. Mike: you solved #2, but not #1.

    And, sorry, if your service is cool it’ll get on Tech Crunch and Dugg and then hundreds of thousands of people will show up within the first week.

    If you don’t plan for scale you’ll be out of business right away.

    Oh, and if your service is ever slow bloggers won’t even consider putting your stuff on their pages.

  11. Good read, Robert.

    I really like how you lay down the comparisions of different players. I was surprised to see Technorati was not on the list though.

    One a slightly humorous note, I think you should rather work for google. Both you and Google are media magnets – you guys make news and get media attention easily ;)

  12. Good read, Robert.

    I really like how you lay down the comparisions of different players. I was surprised to see Technorati was not on the list though.

    One a slightly humorous note, I think you should rather work for google. Both you and Google are media magnets – you guys make news and get media attention easily ;)

  13. >I think you should rather work for google.

    Nah, I’d rather work for a small company that gets to cover the battle between all these players.

    Hmmm, I guess I just don’t see Technorati as doing anything but blog search right now. I think they need to work on that first. Or completely change their business model.

  14. >I think you should rather work for google.

    Nah, I’d rather work for a small company that gets to cover the battle between all these players.

    Hmmm, I guess I just don’t see Technorati as doing anything but blog search right now. I think they need to work on that first. Or completely change their business model.

  15. “….and have some really interesting stuff coming”

    There’s one of Microsofts problems right there – way too much stuff. Channel9 is great, as is the .NET show (when it’s on), as are many MSDN/Technet webcasts – I’d choke if I watched on10 too, nevermind another ‘channel’. The last 12 months has been an all-you-can-eat buffet, and then some, from Microsoft combined with much disappointment-blogging around Vista/Office delays and feature withdrawals (think WinFS), and vision cutbacks. Then there has been the Google-chasing chasing with Windows Live and the not-ready-yet AJAX chasing with ATLAS. So much still ‘coming soon’ and lots just dropped.

    I looked at Visual Studio DSL tools today and watched a Nov 2005 webcast that said the release was Q1 2006, but now it’s more like Aug 2006 as it’s combined with the VS SDK and most of the team haven’t blogged in months. Overload.

    Using these other XMLHTTP/REST services is just so less mind taxing and they are ready to use. I should point out that I’m a Microsoft loyalist and don’t do the LAMP thing but I can see why others do.

    It’s a actually a good thing that Vista/Office is delayed because we’d all drown – Google could drown us too if they aren’t careful.

  16. “….and have some really interesting stuff coming”

    There’s one of Microsofts problems right there – way too much stuff. Channel9 is great, as is the .NET show (when it’s on), as are many MSDN/Technet webcasts – I’d choke if I watched on10 too, nevermind another ‘channel’. The last 12 months has been an all-you-can-eat buffet, and then some, from Microsoft combined with much disappointment-blogging around Vista/Office delays and feature withdrawals (think WinFS), and vision cutbacks. Then there has been the Google-chasing chasing with Windows Live and the not-ready-yet AJAX chasing with ATLAS. So much still ‘coming soon’ and lots just dropped.

    I looked at Visual Studio DSL tools today and watched a Nov 2005 webcast that said the release was Q1 2006, but now it’s more like Aug 2006 as it’s combined with the VS SDK and most of the team haven’t blogged in months. Overload.

    Using these other XMLHTTP/REST services is just so less mind taxing and they are ready to use. I should point out that I’m a Microsoft loyalist and don’t do the LAMP thing but I can see why others do.

    It’s a actually a good thing that Vista/Office is delayed because we’d all drown – Google could drown us too if they aren’t careful.

  17. I didn’t get this one… mostly because I don’t buy the premise of a “developer war” over web services….

    Real world analogy: to build stuff, you need tools (hammers, saws) and building supplies (bricks, lumber).

    Tools = IDEs, languages
    Building Supplies = Web Services

    Tools are kind of a long term commitment. You tend to stick with your development environment and programming language(s) for a while. The stakes are high because developers tend to invest in one set of tools (Microsoft, .NET) or another (Sun, Java).

    Building supplies aren’t necessarily a long-term commitment. You can use Google Maps in one project, and Yahoo! Maps in the next, just as you can change your supplier of bricks and lumber. Sure, there is some inertia, but if Yahoo! Maps upgrades and offers much better maps, I’ll use them on my next project instead of Google. Likewise, if Microsoft’s TOS lets me embed maps in a commercial application and Yahoo’s doesn’t, I’ll switch to Microsoft. Web services change much more quickly than tools; they are cheaper; the barrier to switching is low.

    Also, you can mix and match. There’s not much incentive to get all your web services from the same company. The APIs between services could be radically different — you might use SOAP with the search service, AJAX with the maps service.

    The “developer war,” if there is one, would be over TOOLS. Languages and platforms is where people get really religious.

    Google ain’t got no tools.

    Google does have web services (bricks, lumber), but frankly, bricks and lumber are more exciting than what you can find at http://code.google.com. You got your maps, ok, cool. You got your AJAX search (with advertising included). You got, uh… the Blogger API…

    The “Google Web Toolkit” is a lot of fun: it allows Java programmers (assuming people still program in Java?) to write AJAX web apps. Yeah, that’s right — it turns JAVA into JAVASCRIPT. :-) I hope I’m not the only one who appreciates the irony…

    The “web services war,” if it comes, will just be a marketing war in an attempt to establish some kind of brain-dead brand loyalty. (“Like our maps? Then you’ll love our storage service! Now in three great flavors!”)

    The “tools war” is a little more substantive and the stakes are much higher.

    I’m not sure why you are so high on Google, given that not every app in the world uses public web services, and that Google doesn’t offer developer tools.

    The reason why you see developers using Google as a search engine is that it’s great for finding stuff on MSDN. :-)

  18. I didn’t get this one… mostly because I don’t buy the premise of a “developer war” over web services….

    Real world analogy: to build stuff, you need tools (hammers, saws) and building supplies (bricks, lumber).

    Tools = IDEs, languages
    Building Supplies = Web Services

    Tools are kind of a long term commitment. You tend to stick with your development environment and programming language(s) for a while. The stakes are high because developers tend to invest in one set of tools (Microsoft, .NET) or another (Sun, Java).

    Building supplies aren’t necessarily a long-term commitment. You can use Google Maps in one project, and Yahoo! Maps in the next, just as you can change your supplier of bricks and lumber. Sure, there is some inertia, but if Yahoo! Maps upgrades and offers much better maps, I’ll use them on my next project instead of Google. Likewise, if Microsoft’s TOS lets me embed maps in a commercial application and Yahoo’s doesn’t, I’ll switch to Microsoft. Web services change much more quickly than tools; they are cheaper; the barrier to switching is low.

    Also, you can mix and match. There’s not much incentive to get all your web services from the same company. The APIs between services could be radically different — you might use SOAP with the search service, AJAX with the maps service.

    The “developer war,” if there is one, would be over TOOLS. Languages and platforms is where people get really religious.

    Google ain’t got no tools.

    Google does have web services (bricks, lumber), but frankly, bricks and lumber are more exciting than what you can find at http://code.google.com. You got your maps, ok, cool. You got your AJAX search (with advertising included). You got, uh… the Blogger API…

    The “Google Web Toolkit” is a lot of fun: it allows Java programmers (assuming people still program in Java?) to write AJAX web apps. Yeah, that’s right — it turns JAVA into JAVASCRIPT. :-) I hope I’m not the only one who appreciates the irony…

    The “web services war,” if it comes, will just be a marketing war in an attempt to establish some kind of brain-dead brand loyalty. (“Like our maps? Then you’ll love our storage service! Now in three great flavors!”)

    The “tools war” is a little more substantive and the stakes are much higher.

    I’m not sure why you are so high on Google, given that not every app in the world uses public web services, and that Google doesn’t offer developer tools.

    The reason why you see developers using Google as a search engine is that it’s great for finding stuff on MSDN. :-)

  19. The biggest problem I have with so many Microsoft names is that they are just ordinary English language words: Word, Windows, Excel, Access, Outlook, Exchange, and I’m sure I haven’t thought of all of them. Look at the first comment to this entry. I had to read the first sentence several times to make sure I was parsing it right, and in verbal communications it is even worse: “Did you say we need to exchange server protocols or we need a protocol for our Exchange servers?”

    Google isn’t perfect either. Google Base? I still think it should be a database product. As in free storage for anything I want. Why didn’t they just come out and say it was a “free” version of eBay? But then, why did they call it Base? I still don’t get it.

    I think I speak for most users when I say that in the “war” between Microsoft, Google, Yahoo and the few others you mentioned, we hope nobody ever wins. Bill Gates wrote a beautiful description of the power of APIs back in the pre-Windows 95 days. But since then he seems to be trying to build and empire so large that APIs are not needed. What do you need an API for if Microsoft owns everything? APIs are great for companies that admit up front that they can’t solve all problems. While many developers may hope that their product one day gets acquired by Microsoft, users are better served by lots of companies specializing in one thing or another. Microsoft as an applications company writing applications for all platforms makes a lot of sense, Microsoft as a platform company making a platform for witch all developers would want to write makes a lot of sense. Microsoft as a platform company who is also the biggest kid on the block when it comes to applications makes little sense.

    I have a name for the next Microsoft product: Creosote. As in Mr. Creosote from the Python film “The Meaning of Life”. They have gorged themselves on all manner of applications, wanting to crush Oracle, control all the web and mail servers, own the “office” (I have to put the English word in quotes to avoid confusion with a product name). Go head to head with Sony in the hardware business (and if they succeed will Dell and HP be far behind?). Take on IBM once again in the consulting arena (you know consulting IS about more than just selling your companies application products?)

    And there I see Google (substitute your own web services favorite) playing the polite waiter(s) one after another trying to talk Mr. Creosote into just one more helping of pie (does MS have a product called Pie yet?… it’s something to consider) and finally, over his protestations, please Mr. Creosote, just one TINY WAFER THIN mint. And then as he takes the mint, all the waiters run for cover, because in the next scene Mr. Creosote is all over everyone.

    It is in nobody’s interest to have an Internet “ecosystem” controlled by one, or even just a few companies. Since I first learned about how TCP/IP works my vision has been that the Internet replaces everything, from TV sets and telephones to public libraries, real estate offices and car dealerships. It’s happening too. The only thing that can mess it up are names like Microsoft, Comcast, Verizon, and a few others we could name. No superstars please. Everyone gets a bit part in the play we are writing, and they had better learn to live with it, otherwise they won’t survive the first act. Users have had enough of prima-donnas.

  20. The biggest problem I have with so many Microsoft names is that they are just ordinary English language words: Word, Windows, Excel, Access, Outlook, Exchange, and I’m sure I haven’t thought of all of them. Look at the first comment to this entry. I had to read the first sentence several times to make sure I was parsing it right, and in verbal communications it is even worse: “Did you say we need to exchange server protocols or we need a protocol for our Exchange servers?”

    Google isn’t perfect either. Google Base? I still think it should be a database product. As in free storage for anything I want. Why didn’t they just come out and say it was a “free” version of eBay? But then, why did they call it Base? I still don’t get it.

    I think I speak for most users when I say that in the “war” between Microsoft, Google, Yahoo and the few others you mentioned, we hope nobody ever wins. Bill Gates wrote a beautiful description of the power of APIs back in the pre-Windows 95 days. But since then he seems to be trying to build and empire so large that APIs are not needed. What do you need an API for if Microsoft owns everything? APIs are great for companies that admit up front that they can’t solve all problems. While many developers may hope that their product one day gets acquired by Microsoft, users are better served by lots of companies specializing in one thing or another. Microsoft as an applications company writing applications for all platforms makes a lot of sense, Microsoft as a platform company making a platform for witch all developers would want to write makes a lot of sense. Microsoft as a platform company who is also the biggest kid on the block when it comes to applications makes little sense.

    I have a name for the next Microsoft product: Creosote. As in Mr. Creosote from the Python film “The Meaning of Life”. They have gorged themselves on all manner of applications, wanting to crush Oracle, control all the web and mail servers, own the “office” (I have to put the English word in quotes to avoid confusion with a product name). Go head to head with Sony in the hardware business (and if they succeed will Dell and HP be far behind?). Take on IBM once again in the consulting arena (you know consulting IS about more than just selling your companies application products?)

    And there I see Google (substitute your own web services favorite) playing the polite waiter(s) one after another trying to talk Mr. Creosote into just one more helping of pie (does MS have a product called Pie yet?… it’s something to consider) and finally, over his protestations, please Mr. Creosote, just one TINY WAFER THIN mint. And then as he takes the mint, all the waiters run for cover, because in the next scene Mr. Creosote is all over everyone.

    It is in nobody’s interest to have an Internet “ecosystem” controlled by one, or even just a few companies. Since I first learned about how TCP/IP works my vision has been that the Internet replaces everything, from TV sets and telephones to public libraries, real estate offices and car dealerships. It’s happening too. The only thing that can mess it up are names like Microsoft, Comcast, Verizon, and a few others we could name. No superstars please. Everyone gets a bit part in the play we are writing, and they had better learn to live with it, otherwise they won’t survive the first act. Users have had enough of prima-donnas.

  21. All hail the slummbering digital software and web services oligarchies…

    Whole other big world out there you know…and it’s not a long tail, it’s the whole cow.

  22. All hail the slummbering digital software and web services oligarchies…

    Whole other big world out there you know…and it’s not a long tail, it’s the whole cow.

  23. Things work differently in the new world

    PodTech’s Robert Scoble had an interesting post over the weekend, in which he identifies some of “the common things… developers all need” in the new world we are building. “They need a freaking fast distribution platform. Er, a se…

  24. [...] Scoble posted yesterday on the coming platform wars between Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, and eBay. What is free software’s answer to that? Obviously the ’spend billions on centralized servers’ approach won’t work for us; we likely need something P2P and/or semantic-web based. AllPeers is an example of the P2P approach, we’ll see how it pans out. I suggest semantic web because there is no reason that flickr couldn’t use the same open-garden model as technorati does for blogs, if the right standards were developed and widely deployed. Those are more complex solutions and need people to start on them now, not after Google, Yahoo, and MS have already won. [...]

  25. I agree with Karem.

    The key to getting the developers is tools. Sure, APIs and handy resource like storage are part of that, but the companies who get a good development environment out there are going to win.

    That’s why I go round championing Ning the whole time. So far, it’s the only thing I’ve seen that promises to do for web-app. developers what Zoho et al are threatening to do for ordinary Office users.

  26. I agree with Karem.

    The key to getting the developers is tools. Sure, APIs and handy resource like storage are part of that, but the companies who get a good development environment out there are going to win.

    That’s why I go round championing Ning the whole time. So far, it’s the only thing I’ve seen that promises to do for web-app. developers what Zoho et al are threatening to do for ordinary Office users.

  27. Phil Jones hit the nail on the head. Ning has probably the greatest potential at delivering these capabilities. I have been playing with the Ning framework as well in my spare time and while the front-end UI tools still need a bit of work, they have an incredible back-end, REST, and a unique method of data storage called the content store.
    I also agree with others – disk storage space is getting cheaper and smaller. I am willing to bet in 5 years a terrabyte will be found in flash memory.
    The larger issues I think are bandwidth consumption and global wi-fi access/speeds.

  28. Phil Jones hit the nail on the head. Ning has probably the greatest potential at delivering these capabilities. I have been playing with the Ning framework as well in my spare time and while the front-end UI tools still need a bit of work, they have an incredible back-end, REST, and a unique method of data storage called the content store.
    I also agree with others – disk storage space is getting cheaper and smaller. I am willing to bet in 5 years a terrabyte will be found in flash memory.
    The larger issues I think are bandwidth consumption and global wi-fi access/speeds.

  29. but once again we come back to big ideas that cost a bajillion dollars to implement and benefit about fifteen people. as this market sees financial contraction, the acquisitions/risky rollouts/gee-whiz-contests will give way, for a time, to cost reduction.

  30. but once again we come back to big ideas that cost a bajillion dollars to implement and benefit about fifteen people. as this market sees financial contraction, the acquisitions/risky rollouts/gee-whiz-contests will give way, for a time, to cost reduction.

  31. Fartikus: I’m not so sure about how transient this trend is. I really think there are a handful of companies that are literally ready to bet the farm on what they think the next wave of Internet innovation/dominance will be. The losers will lose big, I think. But the winners will win big — that’s what is keeping the players at the table.

    It’s not unlike the casinos – the lure of wealth is overpowering – and if you really believe you can win, and you can afford to stay in for just one more hand, you will.

    Sure, it could get bloody – but it could also get bloody lucrative for the winners. Remember, non of these companies plan on failing – not Yahoo, Google, Microsoft – none of them. At least two probably will. Which two is the interesting (to me) question.

  32. Fartikus: I’m not so sure about how transient this trend is. I really think there are a handful of companies that are literally ready to bet the farm on what they think the next wave of Internet innovation/dominance will be. The losers will lose big, I think. But the winners will win big — that’s what is keeping the players at the table.

    It’s not unlike the casinos – the lure of wealth is overpowering – and if you really believe you can win, and you can afford to stay in for just one more hand, you will.

    Sure, it could get bloody – but it could also get bloody lucrative for the winners. Remember, non of these companies plan on failing – not Yahoo, Google, Microsoft – none of them. At least two probably will. Which two is the interesting (to me) question.

  33. [...] Now for the finally as what can only be described as the perfect storm (for 24 hours) Scoble breaks wind on some of what has been going on in the tech world of late (from the grassroots, not Dow 100).  Now Scoble talks about lots of stuff from his family to Chinese human rights violations (okay maybe not, but….) but I think yesterday he really brought it  down with his post ‘The coming G/Y/M/A/e developer wars’ [...]

  34. “Microsoft has a huge number of developers but those developers are skilled at building Visual Basic apps for businesses. They don’t think a lot about the Web.”

    Visual Basic apps? Um… which Microsoft did you work at? I thought you were down the hall?

    Didn’t you record this video and hundreds others about Microsoft web technologies?
    http://channel9.msdn.com/Showpost.aspx?postid=109430

  35. “Microsoft has a huge number of developers but those developers are skilled at building Visual Basic apps for businesses. They don’t think a lot about the Web.”

    Visual Basic apps? Um… which Microsoft did you work at? I thought you were down the hall?

    Didn’t you record this video and hundreds others about Microsoft web technologies?
    http://channel9.msdn.com/Showpost.aspx?postid=109430

  36. Great post Robert.

    But I think you missed SalesForce.com. Although now that I’ve said that, you might have been good to omit them because they reserve their APIs for their Enterprise and Unlimited customers and “certified” 3rd party developers; their Team and Professional customers are just S.O.L. SalesForce.com is their own worse enemy!

    But maybe they will wake up, and if they do, I think SalesForce.com will be a playa!

    Also, I think the guys commenting about tools don’t get the point; tools are great but can only have evolutional change. Service APIs are about providing access to data and to invoke processes where programmers simply couldn’t before. Ning is great, but it just simplifies what’s already possible. It’s kind of like the difference in the DotCom days between Pets.com and eBay. The former was about moving an existing business model to the web. The latter is about empowering new business models that previously could not have existed and for which few peole even envisioned.

    No, this is not about tools or about interchangable Map APIs, this is about those things that 99.9% of us can’t even imagine today but that we’ll all look back on in 5-10 years and wonder how we do without, all because of the introduction of some grand new APIs that visionary leaders introduce.

    And I agree it needs to be cheap; free if possible. Yes, someone can afford to buy a terrabyte, but many great ideas start with someone who is just playing around and then they discover something. If there is a cost barrier people will never play to be able to have that ‘Eureka moment.’ (The problem with the ‘free’ developer version of SalesForce is people can’t ever use the developer version for real work, so they are not likely to use it unless they are plan to build something in advance.)

    I also think you missed a point about what is needed. IT ALSO NEEDS TO BE EASY. Like the difference between RDF and RSS, if it is difficult, things won’t take off.

    Lastly, I think your “G/Y/M/A/e developer wars” is an unwieldy mouthful! (Ah! You did work for Microsoft, right? :) Why not something more catchy and tongue-in-cheek like the “GAMeY Wars?” Of course my adding SaleForce.com into the mix would just nix that one though. ;)

    -Mike
    P.S. Oops, one more thing. Where I see the real value will come is when most organizations realize the benefit of providing their data up for programmer consumption in easy-to-consume formats such as RSS Feeds, kind of like DCStat as Jon Udel wrote about here: http://weblog.infoworld.com/udell/2006/06/28.html

  37. Great post Robert.

    But I think you missed SalesForce.com. Although now that I’ve said that, you might have been good to omit them because they reserve their APIs for their Enterprise and Unlimited customers and “certified” 3rd party developers; their Team and Professional customers are just S.O.L. SalesForce.com is their own worse enemy!

    But maybe they will wake up, and if they do, I think SalesForce.com will be a playa!

    Also, I think the guys commenting about tools don’t get the point; tools are great but can only have evolutional change. Service APIs are about providing access to data and to invoke processes where programmers simply couldn’t before. Ning is great, but it just simplifies what’s already possible. It’s kind of like the difference in the DotCom days between Pets.com and eBay. The former was about moving an existing business model to the web. The latter is about empowering new business models that previously could not have existed and for which few peole even envisioned.

    No, this is not about tools or about interchangable Map APIs, this is about those things that 99.9% of us can’t even imagine today but that we’ll all look back on in 5-10 years and wonder how we do without, all because of the introduction of some grand new APIs that visionary leaders introduce.

    And I agree it needs to be cheap; free if possible. Yes, someone can afford to buy a terrabyte, but many great ideas start with someone who is just playing around and then they discover something. If there is a cost barrier people will never play to be able to have that ‘Eureka moment.’ (The problem with the ‘free’ developer version of SalesForce is people can’t ever use the developer version for real work, so they are not likely to use it unless they are plan to build something in advance.)

    I also think you missed a point about what is needed. IT ALSO NEEDS TO BE EASY. Like the difference between RDF and RSS, if it is difficult, things won’t take off.

    Lastly, I think your “G/Y/M/A/e developer wars” is an unwieldy mouthful! (Ah! You did work for Microsoft, right? :) Why not something more catchy and tongue-in-cheek like the “GAMeY Wars?” Of course my adding SaleForce.com into the mix would just nix that one though. ;)

    -Mike
    P.S. Oops, one more thing. Where I see the real value will come is when most organizations realize the benefit of providing their data up for programmer consumption in easy-to-consume formats such as RSS Feeds, kind of like DCStat as Jon Udel wrote about here: http://weblog.infoworld.com/udell/2006/06/28.html