Posts Tagged ‘loss of control’

Look there is a Web App. Look again and it is gone.

The central theme and the reason for existence for Tonido is the fact that relying completely on Web Applications is fraught with danger. Here’s one more evidence. Google has decided to shutter several of their Web Apps. The apps include Google Video, Jaiku, Mashup Editor, Dodgeball. Development will also stop on Google Notebook. While I can’t say that these apps are real popular applications, it does speak about the real possibility of any application that is not “popular” being on the chopping block.

It also makes me wonder, what is the rationale behind the decision? It has to be financial I am sure. The cost of running the servers for that app doesn’t match the income generated or the income generating potential from that app. There simply can’t be any other reason behind it. I can’t see why Google would close a service which is profitable or at least breaking-even. But this is a frightening thought, if a service is on the chopping block once it becomes unprofitable, no application is safe. A profitable application today can become unprofitable tomorrow. What happens then?

You could argue that companies work on applications and stop working on them when they think that it is unprofitable. And that this has been happening since computers were around. But the crucial difference is that when a company stops working on a product before, the customers that used the product were still able to continue using it. The products did not simply stop working when the company snapped their fingers.

For example, I am sure Microsoft Word would continue to work if Microsoft suddenly decided to discontinue MS Office tomorrow. (Although, the odds of that happening are pretty small :-)

Web Applications by their very nature exist only if the company that runs the server wants them to. They can disappear overnight. They can disappear if the accounts start showing a little bit red. They can disappear if a competitor appears or the signup rates decreases. They can disappear if the economy starts heading south. This is the reason Web apps are particularly insidious. Application users can never be sure their application will still be there tomorrow when they login.

If Google can do this, anyone can and it is kind of surprising in one way that Google doesn’t get much flak for this. People still think of Web Apps as traditional software applications and generally don’t care when one goes under as long as they are not affected. The only app that I use in the above list is Google Notebook and development stopping on it is not a big deal, but I just wonder if this is just an ominous sign about the direction Google Notebook is going. Cue to backup my data from Google Notebook.

It is a pity, I liked Google Notebook.

Google Reader gets a facelift

Ok, it is a slow news day. The online Google RSS reader has a new UI. Interesting news, but nothing to write a whole blog post about.

But I just saw an instance on how true my previous post on loss of control in web apps is.
When I read this story on download squad, the writer commented:

I happened to have Google Reader open when the changeover occurred, so I was able to grab the screenshot above showing the old new design on the left and the old Google Reader interface on the left. Honestly, found the old version familiar and comforting like a favorite blanket. But I’m sure I’ll get used to the new version soon. Getting rid of that 1000+ unread item count will certainly help.

This was exactly what I was talking about in my previous post.

The funny thing is that you cannot say “I will get used to the new version“.

The fact is you have to. .