September 18, 2007

Marc Andreesen has a great blog-post that starts with an attempt at defining what a platform is.

He breaks it down into 3 levels :

Level 1 platforms provide an API for external applications to call their services.

Level 2 platforms (eg. Facebook) help the external application present themselves by incorporating the applications within their UI. I'd say that we're really talking about platforms which provide a "callback" to the application.

Level 3 platforms host and execute the application themselves. With the benefit that the platform can broker richer integration between the applications. This is obviously what Salesforce's Force does. And, of course, Ning - the best part of this email is that it signal that Andreeson is trying to promote the "development environment" idea of Ning which was the exciting idea that kind of got lost when they rebranded it as "just another social network". (Asde : In fact, does Ning have what it takes to become a budget Force / AppExchange rival?)

He goes on to make a very good point :

Second, beware overfocusing on the apps of the past when thinking about the platforms of the future.

Lots of people got confused by the idea of apps running in the browser because when they thought of apps, they thought of the apps they used already on their PCs -- Word, Excel, Powerpoint -- and not the apps that would get built on the web -- eBay, Amazon, Now, it turns out in the fullness of time that word processing, spreadsheets, and presentation apps are also moving into the web -- as Google is demonstrating. But way before that happened, the web led people to create lots of new kinds of applications that were not possible on the PC.

A new platform typically enables a new set of applications that were not previously possible. Why else would there be a need for a new platform?

Umair keep up the Facebook scepticism.

Worth thinking about.

September 17, 2007

Force launched ... come back soon when I've had some time to look into it.

September 14, 2007

Salesforce's new open / social / online application platform..

This is massive. As the culmination and synthesis of several of the most important trends going on at the moment. This is going to blow up the enterprise software market the way the microcomputer blew up the mainframe market.

- any company can "rent" - as a service - an enterprise-class database-backed infrastructure from Salesforce.

- any programmer, or small company, can write applications for it.

- the applications will talk to each other via Salesforce's protocols.

- developers don't have to *sell* their application through the usual "sell big expensive software for humungous amounts of money, with lots of free lunches, kick-backs, professional sales-teams and special companies owned by the son of the procurador" channels; instead you just make your app available for companies to rent at ... erm "a flat $25/month/user".

(In fact, if Salesforce go the viral method - currently raging in Facebook - where you can encourage your friends (or in the case of business, your suppliers and customers) to install the application, then your app. can spread like wildfire *without* having to market it at all.)

Effectively, large suites break up into a swarm of widgets and mini-apps sitting on top of open, and standard, protocols and storage.