The web-based platform

There has been lots of discussion about the web as the new platform so none of what I am saying is new. However, I recently came across Adam Bosworth’s take on this which is quite interesting given his experience at Microsoft, BEA, and now Google.

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.

The Microsoft/Google wars will be a great one to watch over the years. I, for one, being a big fan of the ASP and hosted software model, like the browser based-platform. It makes so much sense and will continue to do so as we get even more bandwidth and more devices from which to access web-based services. As GBrowser rolls out, I wonder how long it will be before Google, leveraging open source, rolls out GOffice and GCollaboration (web-ex like functionality) to really go after Microsoft. Maybe and Google get together at some point in the distant, distant future?

Published by Ed Sim

founder boldstart ventures, over 20 years experience seeding and leading first rounds in enterprise startups, @boldstartvc, googlization of IT, SaaS 3.0, security, smart data; cherish family time + enjoy lacrosse + hockey

5 comments on “The web-based platform”

  1. Why would Google look to compete directly with MS? Because they haven’t learned enough from watching Netscape? Because they think MS is vulnerable right now? Because they suddenly believe that everyone is going to pay up for subscription services to GOffice (which no company has been successful at)? I’m not doubting your belief in ASP-delivered applications: I agree with the model and I agree that it is the future – it’s just that the future generally takes longer to arrive – particularly with consumer-based products.

    Google is a big company because of ad revenues – and if they are smart, they will avoid Microsoft and look to leverage what they really bring to the table – a large and interesting audience.

    I’m not saying they shouldn’t put out a browser – it will definitely help, but why not launch into businesses that they can actual target on the basis that they are already large businesses: jobs and auctions. Auctions, in particular, seems like a no-brainer to me – it’s basically just an extension of the current ad model.

    I will find it extremely disheartening for Google to try and go at Microsoft and repeat the same mistakes of Netscape. Comments welcome…

  2. I agree with most of your points and concerns. When you are worth $36b, know that the effectivness of contextual based ads will diminish over time, and feel the heat from Microsoft, you must defend your turf and find alternate revenue streams. As you agree, Gbrowser is needed to fend off the Microsoft threat of Longhorn and its OS. As for revenue streams, I am sure the next services they launch will be akin to your comments. My comments around GOffice and GCollaboration are for the distant future. If GBrowser succeeds and if the browser and web is a platform and we have always-on connectivity from any device, why not leverage the Google brand and the open source community to find more ways to lock in its audience and increase switching costs? Does Google do this now-of course not. Are they working on this in their labs-I am sure of it. As for Netscape, luckily Google has the benefit of hindsight. In addition, Google is in a much better position than Netscape since its business model works and throws off $600mm cash a year. Finally, the amount of users on the web and the web itself was immature relative to now. 5 years from now, it will only get easier and cheaper for Google to offer services such as those I highlight.

  3. I noted this post as well and I particularly agreed with his outlook that the next platform will 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.”

    What are the business implications of this? advertising? subscriptions to services on such a platform? Will providers of the elements of this platform get paid some kind of rent by the service tenants? To me a platform is not really a platfrom unless other folks make money from it.

  4. I don’t like MS but it seems that MSNsearch and its spider now works better than Google/Googlebot. Google tries to control everything (like MS long time ago). MSN’s bot goes and eats web pages, Googlebot does capricious 🙁

  5. If Google do deliver an Office suite they wouldn’t need to charge you a monthly fee because they could integrate their search and advertising technology into the application thus creating yet more advertising revenue for the company.

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