Trying to oppose Open Web to Native App Technologies is so misguided that it beggars belief

Open web is not in opposition of native apps. There is just one single entity called Web, and it is open by definition. There are numerous forms of applications that make use of Internet technologies, a subset of such Internet-based technologies serve the web. You get nowhere trying to oppose those two things.

People who ought to know better spend valuable energy dissing native app technologies. I’ve ignored the fracas for a long time, finally I thought I’d pen a couple of simple thoughts. I got motivated to do this upon seeing Roy Fielding’s tweets. I also read @daringfireball’s recent blog post explaining in his usually articulate way how he sees Apple in the whole picture. Here, I just want to look at a couple of definitions, pure and simple.

To claim that open web technologies would be the only safe bet is akin to saying that all you would ever need is a hammer. Good luck with that if you never come across any nails.

I think both are very good and very useful in their own right, one isn’t going to push the other into irrelevance anytime soon because they serve different use cases. The signs actually are that web addressing model, by way of URIs, might get challenged soon once Internet connected devices start to proliferate (as they’ve been hyped to do for some time now). So, I actually think that a safer bet would be Internet Technologies, Web could increasingly be pushed into a niche. But ok, I actually didn’t intend to get in the fray.

Incidentally, I only see claims that native platform apps would be some kind of conspiracy to lock users down, but apparently open web would be the gentlemen benevolent dictator’s choice. I am skeptical in the face of such claims, because Mother Teresa wasn’t a web advocate for example. I remember that Apple, who triggered what-you-know, initially only wanted people to write HTML apps for the iPhone when it launched. It was only when they got pressured by developers that they finally released native SDKs. That’s such a terrible showing for a would-be mal-intended user-locker.

There is no such thing as an open web versus anything else. There is just the web and then there is an ever growing generation of native platform apps that also take advantage of Internet technologies. That’s it. Trying to oppose those two things is just rubbish. Plainly put. If something is a web technology and actually adheres to the web definition, it can only be open. A close web technology would be an oxymoron, the definition doesn’t hold. If something is built using Internet technology, it may borrow web technology for some purposes, but it is not part of the web per se.

In the instances where web technology is best fit, it will continue to be that way and get better. Conversely, in the  cases where native platform apps work best, those will continue to get better and may use the Internet. There is a finite number of web technologies bound by the standards and specifications implemented. But, there is an infinite number of native app technologies since the implementers can write anything they like and get it translated to machine code following any protocol they may devise.

The Web doesn’t equate to the Internet. There are open and closed Internet Technologies, but there isn’t such a thing for the Web. The Internet contains the Web, not the other way around.

In the outset, there is a platform battle going on where parties are vying for depleted user attention. In such battles, every party attracting people to their platform is self serving and can make as much morale (or whatever you call it) claim as any other. The only exception are those set to gain nothing in getting their platform adopted. There aren’t any of those around.

My observation of the ongoing discussions so far is simple. Some individuals grew increasingly insecure of having missed the boat on native platform apps. Whatever the reason, including own choices. Some other individuals, a different group, burned their fingers trying to follow some hypes, learned from that and turned to native platform apps. The two groups started having a go at each other. That got all the rousing started, everyone lost their cool and indulged in mud slinging. But there is no point to all of this.

If you are building software intended to solve a category of problems, then the most important technology selection criteria you should consider is ‘fit for purpose’. Next to that, if the problem is user bound, then you want to find the most user friendly way of achieving your aim. If you do this correctly, you will invariably pick what serves best the most valuable use cases of your intended audience. Sometimes this will work well with web technologies, sometimes it won’t, and other times you will mix and match as appropriate.

I don’t see web technologies being opposed to native app platforms, at all. Whatever developers find more attractive and profitable will eventually prevail, and use case is the only metric that truly matters. It is understandable that any vendor should vie for relevance. That’s what’s at stake, and that is important to everyone. It’s only once people and organisation would face up to this cold fact and start talking genuinely that they begin to make some progress.


Firefox 3 beta 4 is ridiculously fast

After reading a couple of articles about the latest development nighly build of Firefox 3 beta for Mac Os X Leopard. I thought I should give beta-4 a try – I had already been running beta-3. Blimey! When you experience software running this fast you can’t help thinking: what else could have been done much better that isn’t yet? I’ve been in this industry for 17 years now and I keep wondering how much waste there is. Looking around you at whatever IT project you’re involved in or software you must be running or building, there’s got to be an unlimited amount of waste around. So IT Waste Recycling has got to be the business with the most growth potential for years to come. Never mind mobile internet which is already over-crowded thanks to Google Android and Apple’s iPhonecar hire bulgariamebeli. I know I’m making a bit of a leap here, but I’m quite sure it’s not far from the truth.

Sophisticated algorithm, the web is first and foremost about advertising

The vast majority of web sites out there actually have very little intelligence, only a tiny few can boast to be clever or advanced. I’m not going to risk any numbers here, it’s obviously just a conjecture based on my experience – humbly longer than the web itself, though. But had i not been too lazy I could find studies to back up my claim.

It seems that websites don’t really need to be clever though, the most basic profiling with a few personalised experience here and there make for impressive reviews and sometimes raves. It turns out that what matters most in the Internet is the amount of traffic a web site gets, the bigger the more valuable the site. I visit a lot of web sites but i only buy from a few, am I representative of the Internet users? That’s debatable.
The more you analyse this type of phenomenon, the more you realise how focused folks at Google have been. They just ‘got it’. Well done, I’m jealous now, i wish I was there first and made a few gazillion Euros. I’d have setup an incubation academy for malians and fellow africans. Day dreaming, what am I thinking?


If you build it they will come. Now then, you’ve built it and they came. So what…?