The platform of this decade isn’t going to be around controlling hardware resources and rich UI. Nor do I think you’re going to be able to charge for the platform per se. Instead, it is going to be around access to community, collaboration, and content. And it is going to be mass market in the way that the web is mass market, in the way that the iPod is mass market, in the way that a TV is mass market. Which means I think that it is going to be around services, not around boxes. I postulate, still, that 95% of the UI required for this world will be delivered over the browser for the same reason that we all still use a steering wheel in a car or have stayed with<< < | > >>
for so long. Everybody gets it. But this will, by definition, be an open platform because the main value it has is in delivering information and communication. Notice that the big players, Amazon, eBay, and Google have already opened up their information through Web API’s. It is Open Data coupled with Open Communication built on top of Open Source that will drive the future, not Longhorn.
Dare Obasanjo comments:
When I read Adam Bosworth’s post this weekend, it became clear to me that folks at Google have come to the same conclusion or soon will once Adam is done with them.
So where do we begin? It seems prudent to provide my definition of social software so we are all on the same page. Social software is any software that enables people to interact with one another. To me there are five broad classes of social software. There is software that enables
- Communication (IM, Email, SMS, etc)
- Experience Sharing (Blogs, Photo albums, shared link libraries such as del.icio.us)
- Discovery of Old and New Contacts (Classmates.com, online personals such as Match.com, social networking sites such as Friendster, etc)
- Relationship Management (Orkut, Friendster, etc)
- Collaborative or Competitive Gaming (MMORPGs, online versions of traditional games such as Chess & Checkers, team-based or free-for-all First Person Shooters, etc)
Interacting with the aforementioned forms of software is the bulk of the computing experience for a large number of computer users especially the younger generation (teens and people in their early twenties). The major opportunity in this space is that no one has yet created a cohesive experience that ties together the five major classes of social software. Instead the space is currently fragmented. Google definitely realizes this opportunity and is aggressively pursuing entering these areas as is evidenced by their foray into GMail, Blogger, Orkut, Picasa, and most recently Google Groups 2.
However Google has so far shown an inability to tie these together into a cohesive and thus “sticky” experience. On the other hand Yahoo! has been better at creating a more integrated experience and thus a better online one-stop-shop (aka portal) but has been cautious in venturing into the newer avenues in social software such as blogs or social networking. And then there’s MSN and AOL….
This foray by Google into building the social software platform is definitely an interesting challenge to Microsoft both in the short term (MSN) and in the long term (Windows). This should be fun to watch.