April 27, 2008

Thinking, even though I'm not so enamoured of them, I need to read more blogs like this.

April 23, 2008

Damn! I have to link TechCrunch, but this memo is worth it.

Ozzie clearly "gets it"; M$ re-orienting themselves around the Yasn-as-platform and the device swarm :

1. The Web is the Hub of our social mesh and our device mesh.

The web is first and foremost a mesh of people. . . . All applications will grow to recognize and utilize the inherent group-forming aspects of their connection to the web, in ways that will become fundamental to our experiences. In scenarios ranging from productivity to media and entertainment, social mesh notions of linking, sharing, ranking and tagging will become as familiar as File, Edit and View. . . . To individuals, the concept of “My Computer” will give way to the concept of a personal mesh of devices – a means by which all of your devices are brought together, managed through the web, as a seamless whole.

April 21, 2008

The end of SkyPal? (Hat-tip Exmosis)

WTF? Craziness, no?

What EBay should be doing :

a) make development of Skype plugins more accessible. (Note that the Skype home-page doesn't have a "for developers" link, how much excited discussion is there among developers about the potential of this?)

b) EBay have got a ready made social networking service in Skype's contact lists. The clever thing to do would be to find ways to build on that social network.

c) unify Skype, PayPal and EBay accounts (much as Yahoo and Google have been doing with the properties they bought)

April 18, 2008

Google launches Orkut Apps. in India.

This, I guess, is OpenSocial.

Update : previews.

April 14, 2008

Wow! AppDrop clones the GAE API on top of Amazon AWS!! Already!

Update : Cohesive offers another hosting option
Phil Wainewright : Is Facebook a PaaS contender?

My take ... they had every possibility of being in this area, but don't really seem to have picked up on the possibility. (Prefering instead to chase good-old-fashioned-advertising-driven-mass-media-strategies). I don't *expect* to see FB show much vision or leadership of their platform developers in this direction.
Google + Salesforce

Currently tighter integration of Google's online office-style apps. with Salesforce's platform.

Notes how viral Google apps are spreading :
Much of this will happen under-the-radar. David Armstrong, product and marketing manager for Google Enterprise in EMEA, told me yesterday that Google Apps already has half a million organizations — not individuals, organizations — signed up worldwide, with 2000 more signing up every day. But that astounding adoption rate is visible only to Google. There are no shrinkwrap packages passing through distributors’ warehouses or flying off retailers’ shelves. There’s not even any money changing hands for sign-ups to the free version. It’s just an invisible stream of bits in the ether. Adoption will be mostly unseen, until one day it will suddenly have become too big to ignore.

Meanwhile ZDnet bloggers are tracking the fast evolving cloud / platform-as-service war.

April 13, 2008

Interesting. Dion Hinchcliffe notes that Sun's had a cloud for a while ... and we don't care.

Must be something to do with Java. :-)

Or Google Reality Distortion field?
Some had to try auctioning a Twitter account.

Fun experiment and the results will be informative.

Update : StoweBoyd doesn't actually think that much of the idea. Seems to think that all the value of a twitter account is in the individual, not the collection of followers.

But I wonder if there might be an intermediete position. What if some online personalities could be more like fictional characters : the architypes here might be James Bond or Dr. Who.

Different actors play the roles but we have models and standards to compare them to. We wonder quite obsessively what the new Bond will be like. Will he be as good as the old? Will he be as "Bond" as the old.

I once read that Robert X. Cringely was not the original but a substitute who took over the original column. Whether this is a myth or not, it seems that new writers could take over an existing role, if they perform it well enough.

Might we be asking ourselves "who'll be the next Scoble?" Unlikely. But Shel Israel already seems to be moving in the direction of a fictional character.

April 12, 2008

Dion Hinchcliffe is on the case of comparing GAE and Amazon Web Services.

Simon Wardley defends GAE against detractors.

April 10, 2008

Yahoo to merge with AOL?

It's all stupid, anyway if these companies are just worried about consolidating audience. Why don't they just break-up Yahoo into a bunch of separate entities (Flickr etc.) and see what each can do on it's own?
Mary Jo Foley asks if Windows 7 will be available in pieces.

It's a sensible thought. I believe that the desktop operating system is (at least currently) a dead-end. It is no longer a place where any kind of interesting platform warring can occur. All desktop operating systems must offer similar resources (access to the capabilities of the underlying hardware, file-system, graphic user-interface including components, media handling etc. etc.)

Until the hardware changes or human requirements change fundamentally, these are more or less static; commoditized.

Windows, Mac and Linux all do a sufficiently OK job of providing for these requirements that the choice of one or the other offers little advantage to the application writer. One chooses to write for Windows because that's where the biggest market is, or Mac because that's where the most exclusive market is, or Linux because of ideological commitment.

Differentiating desktop operating systems boils down to tweaking the inessentials.

This is why Microsoft's huge investment of time, money and goodwill in Vista was a strategic mistake. One which cost the company far more than a desktop OS could ever recover.

Instead, the competitive action has moved to new loci. As I've mentioned on my other blog, there is a dramatic upheaval going on in the software world :

Applications are getting pulverized, fragmented down into smaller, more focussed, single "feature" mini-applications that I tend to call "widgets". This is happening because there are new networks for organizing and plugging the widgets together. Widgets are tethered through web protocols, RSS etc to server based applications in the "cloud" but are only distantly connected to each other.

Increasingly they are running on virtual machines which have successfully wrapped and hidden the operating system. (The browser, the Java Virtual Machine, the Flash virtual machine etc.) One thing that has helped with this is that the web-based applications store user's data in the cloud not on the local machine, and so avoid having to get too familiar with the local file-system.

This software is often self-installing or comes directly from the web. It usually needs no purchasing and relies on no infrastructure of distribution (such as shops selling boxes with DVDs in) It is promoted by word-of-mouse. The extreme example, which I believe is a pointer to the future, is the Facebook app. where knowledge of applications percolates virally through computer-aided-social-networks (YASNS) who's infrastructure helps accelerate their flow. (Google using GMail to push people into it's online wordprocessor and spreadsheet is another example.)

Widgets, then, are small, narrow focussed programs which live natively in both social networks, and data-flow networks, tethered to the cloud.

In general they eschew dependency on the desktop operating system and prefer to run in the browser, JVM, Flash (and maybe Silverlight) virtual machines. By their very existence they contributed to the decline in relevance of the desktop operating system but reignite a platform war among widget containers. There is a lot of room for differentiation in the container : who provides the best video decompression or GUI toolkit, for example.

The other coming platform war is going to be in the cloud. We are seeing the shift from companies providing basic hosting mechanics (servers, database servers) to Amazon providing a suite of cheap, scalable resources for a web-based applications, to Google coming with the beginnings of a complete, integrated development/deployment/hosting platform with Application Engine.

As Folknology puts it in a tweet today :

GAE marks the end of frameworks & the beginning of Platform 2.0. Expect this to be a hum-dimmer of a war between the big players.

Over the next five years there's going to be far more happening on both the integrated cloud development and hosting front, and on the widget-container front than on the desktop. At which point it must start to dawn on Microsoft that they can't afford to waste as much on Windows 7 as they did on Vista. It's not clear that there's any need at all for a new Windows apart from for appearances sake. And to stay in the game.

It's certainly no longer viable to keep the next Windows as the centre of attention or try to fight for world-domination there.

Windows 7 can't be the monolithic, all conquering beast that its ancestors were. Instead, far better to be a swarm of components. Cheap to produce, loosely coupled, a buffet from which users can pick and choose.
Compare Joel Spolsky reiterating his Fire and Motion riff, with John Robb on Boyd's OodaLoop

April 08, 2008

Simon Wardley comments on Google Application Engine ...

good points : warns of lock-in, notes connection with Gears and Android ... means that the Google Platform includes tethered devices.
Google App Engine to challenge Amazon, Ning etc.

Write your applications in Python ... w00t!

Update : OK, this is big, at least this is going "mainstream". Poor Ning, they had all the great ideas, Amazon too ... but it sounds like Google are taking the whole package : integrated development environment, database, python, logging, version control, multiple developers working on same code-base etc. etc. and bringing it to the masses.

But only a limited number of free accounts ...

Update 2: early chatter is complaining about Python-only, actually I'm not sure it's gonna be Python that people struggle to get their heads around ... I think it's gonna be BigTable.