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What surprises me is not that a platform provider will do things in its own interests, it's that people keep falling for it.

Seriously.

This isn't new eg [1].

Also, I don't really buy into the argument that these third-party providers is what made Twitter popular. IMHO Twitter made Twitter popular and the devs just followed the money.

[1]: http://gigaom.com/2011/06/07/fred-wilson-to-devs-expect-plat...




Humans have extremely high tolerance to abuse. Many businesses have this as their main pillar. Adobe famously continues to release worse and worse experiences with their products, and still have a popular costumer base. The masses simply have very low quality standards.


Perhaps the tolerance is only propped up because there's no viable alternative. GIMP is nice, but it's not Photoshop. Likewise, Inkscape is nice, but it too is not Illustrator.

Tolerance for BS decreases as the number of perceived choices increases. This seems to be true across the board, from software to relationships.


Humans also have surprisingly high levels of trust. People expect businesses, which by definition exist solely to make money, to be reasonable about things, and then are shocked when they aren't. And people will often try to reason something is an "honest mistake" and not deliberate.


>Adobe famously continues to release worse and worse experiences with their products, and still have a popular costumer base.

Famously? Really? As in "some random non professional designers/adobe users complained on the intertubes".

Care to mention how, say, Photoshop, Premmiere or Lightroom CS6 are worse than previous versions? All have been praised as substantial updates.

Bonus points for not using non-technical catch-all words like "bloated".

I would aldo like to hear about the worthy replacement, with feature parity to those products.

Abode products, due to the custom UI, have some odd look&feel issues in some controls. They also have bugs like any program has (far less than most, though, especially considering scope and complexity).

That said, they are the industry leading products, with no substitution that has the same breadth for professional wokflows. So, no, its not about "tolerance", its about being the "best game in town".

People jumped ship from Quark to inDesign in a heartbeat, when the option emerged.


Yeah. My wife uses Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, and is moving to Lightroom now, professionally, and loves Adobe's products. Oh, I'm sure she has her gripes about certain things, but they work great. There are other products. She used Aperture for a while (and still does, as I mentioned, she's moving to Lightroom), but if you heard her tell it, it wasn't because Aperture was better, it was just that she ended up learning that first. They are, in essence, the same.

And when they are basically the same, the one that fits in with the entire suite of applications she uses is one she will want to use more often.

Adobe does not begin with PDF's and end with Flash.


Oh come on, that's bullshit. By offering an API, Twitter says "dev for us!". If they subsequently make actually developing for Twitter impossible, they're in the wrong.

Calling it the developers fault is just ridiculous.

Twitter should either own up to their current strategy and remove the API altogether (publicly), or keep the API and support it like it's a service that matters.


>By offering an API, Twitter says "dev for us!"

That's true, but in no way is this invitation a binding contract.

It's a temporary bargain: The big player gets a cheap way to offer more functionality to his users, and the API-users profit from the big audience of the platform.

As soon as one player decides that the bargain isn't worth it anymore, the deal is off. It's no one's fault, just the nature of it.


Perhaps we'll reach the stage where developers react to third party APIs like an abused spouse does to their aggressor -- shying away from their spouse and doing their best to move on to greener pastures.

We may end up at the stage where the most successful third party APIs are those that provide strong bilateral agreements and service guarantees, so that the developer doesn't live in fear that the nerdy rug will be unpredictably pulled out from underneath them.


I wish it were so, but though I hate to be cynical, this has been going on (for me) since the early 90's (back then Microsoft was the one everyone connected to) so I doubt that anything is going to change.


Maybe it needs to get worse before the tipping point is reached though and API developers start genuinely caring for the wellbeing of their developers and acting with a greater deal of integrity and empathy.

Established businesses should feel less secure today as it seems far harder for one business to have a stranglehold on the market. Software distribution costs have been lowered by the internet. Development costs have also been lowered because we no need to push wheelbarrows of cash to Oracle, et al. We have better tools, better infrastructure, and shorter development cycles. Marketing is easier, cheaper, and more apt to give rapid feedback.


Network effects are still horrible barriers to overcome on social networks or phone platforms. Once a company has large numbers of active users they tend to win, and once they start winning they have little incentive to care about the well being of individual third party developers. Once they have the eyeballs the third party developers want access to, they can treat most of them like dirt, and they can still count on more lining up to use their API.

If a company like Google struggles to launch a new social network with their existing huge user base, you know its hard. Yes social networks and platforms do die, like MySpace and RIMM, and new ones burst in to prominence like Pinterest or Android, but for every new network or platform that succeeds, hundreds or more probably thousands fail.

Small third party developers have strong incentives to put up with the risks involved in using API's provided by dangerous companies like Twitter, Facebook and Apple because they have to if they want to get access to all the users those companies own.


We see turnover all the time. The network effect is interesting, but creative people can and do overcome it. reddit overcame it by faking user activity until they actually had a community. Facebook overtook MySpace with exclusivity combined with an exponential rollout. LiveJournal lived and died because of its community and the "network effect"; Tumblr has now achieved what LiveJournal had only dreamed about. The network effect is a difficult hurdle to overcome, but the best do and as a result we end up with a "new internet" ever 5-10 years or so. Craigslist might be the next giant to lose their golden star, and I wouldn't be especially surprised if they do.

Google failed in part because they never really communicated what Google+ is. I still don't really grok what it's for or why I should use it, and that's why I don't. They really just didn't produce a compelling product, brand it well, or market it effectively. For whatever reason, Google's marketers doesn't appear to be of the same caliber as their engineers.

Someone will pull Twitter's pants down and at the same time eat their lunch. I love Twitter, but I can't wait to see what cool thing replaces them.


"I still don't really grok what it's for or why I should use it, and that's why"

Uh, its for pretty much the same thing Facebook is for, except you can do lists and make them public or private, you seriously didn't get that?

Or did you just not use it because the people in your network weren't using it. If your friends are already on Facebook there is almost no reason for you to migrate to a new social network where your friends, or chosen thought leaders, aren't active. Maybe you will tack it on as a 3rd, 4th or 5th social network where it will mostly just consume more of your time.

As I said, yes network do rise and fall but it is enormously difficult to get that ball rolling and keep it rolling. FriendFeed was an awesome social network, with all star founders, but it never gained that critical mass, the founders gave up believing they could displace Facebook so they sold it down the river... to Facebook.


Don't count Google out yet. Just because it hasn't become hugely successful in it's first year doesn't mean it won't. How many users did Facebook have in 2005? Twitter in 2007? Google has put enormous resources behind Google+, and they don't show any sign of backing down. They're taking dozens of separate services that they provide and integrating them through Google+. In 5 years, that's going to be a very compelling platform.


I am not sure the 75 million active daily users of Google+ consider the product a failure.


You think Google+ has 75 million active users. :-|


I question whether a "stranglehold" is necessary for business security.


Your analogy is defective in that abused spouses usually still cling to their abusers, which is why domestic violence is so persistent and bad. If a random person assaults you on the street, you're very unlikely to lie in court to keep him from going to prison; battered spouses do that kind of thing all the time.


Of course my analogy is "defective" -- that's a feature of analogies, not a bug because all analogies break down rapidly. An analogy is a loose likeness between two things; one is not a wholly accurate representation of the other.


The population turns over. And a high proportion of members need to be "burned" before they become "shy". And, there's a subset that never does learn.

It's what the con-man (/person) lives on, the old: "There's a sucker born every minute."

And even when individuals are not deliberate in forethought and intent, social systems tend to recreate these patterns. When your family needs to eat (metaphorically, when not literally), you'll restrict your API, too, if that's what it takes.

There's a reason that metaphors stick around. "Don't be a sharecropper." "Don't put all your eggs in one basket." "Time is money." Etc.




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