Nov 16, 2009

hills and valleys

Tim O'Reilly previews his keynote for Web 2.0 Expo this week.

It could be that everyone will figure out how to play nicely with each other, and we'll see a continuation of the interoperable web model we've enjoyed for the past two decades. But I'm betting that things are going to get ugly. We're heading into a war for control of the web. And in the end, it's more than that, it's a war against the web as an interoperable platform. Instead, we're facing the prospect of Facebook as the platform, Apple as the platform, Google as the platform, Amazon as the platform, where big companies slug it out until one is king of the hill.

Excuse the early Monday morning metaphors in the following, but... I don't think there will be one king of the entire hill. Instead, what we're seeing are attempts to own individual hills: Amazon with commerce, Apple with mobile, Google with search, Facebook with identity. And it's up to the entrepreneurs who are building applications in the valleys between those hills to make the tough choice: do you live off the largesse of the feudal lord on top of the hill, and enjoy the short term benefits of their comfortable development environment / distribution channel / social graph, regardless of the long term impact on your business? Or do you go your own way, and attempt to amass enough strength to take the hill yourself?