Web 2.0 Insanity

Maybe it’s just me, but it definitely feels like there’s a funding bubble around web 2.0. Not that I’m complaining! Just a few examples:

We now have two companies, Cooliris and Browster that make browser plugins for popup-previewing of search results pages. Ok, so maybe that’s a cool feature that will save people a few clicks to find what they’re looking for. But do we really need two whole free-standing companies to do nothing but build these browser features? Can’t this thing be done by one person as a Firefox plugin? Shouldn’t these smart people be trying to solve some bigger problem? I think Russell Beatie already wrote the classic post about this.

While we’re on the subject of browsers, I just want to vent a little about Flock. Now I don’t dispute that they’ve built a cool product. But I just wish they would stop. Here we are, years after Mark Andreessen predicted that the browser would replace MS Windows as the primary application platform, and it’s finally happening! JotSpot, Writely, Zoho, web mail, Google Spreadsheets and many others are actually realizing the dream of letting me do all my computer work through the browser. I run very few desktop apps today, and I don’t miss hasseling with software installs.

But here comes Flock, trying to bundle applications into the browser itself. This is the classic MS strategy which got them sued by the DOJ, but moved to the browser platform. Guess what? I don’t want it! I don’t want Flock deciding that Flickr, Photobucket and Myspace are now the defacto standards and so they can support those out of the box and screw everybody else. I want my new operating system, the browser, pure and unadulterated and not pre-tied to a bunch of chosen services. “But they support plugins!” you say. Sure, and anyone can download and run FF on their new PC, and yet IE 6 still has 85% plus market share. Forget it. I’m not going to use it. And for those services that are happy about their Flock plugin, just wait till Flock stops activating your plugin by default and picks your competitor’s service instead.

Update: Well, not to say “I told you so”, but here’s the Techcrunch coverage of a special version of Flock which excludes Flickr support in favor of Photobucket.

1 comment so far

  1. […] But there are already several critics of the project, you can read about it here and here. While I agree there are several problems, I do believe the flock approach is a correct one, at least in theory. Flock doesn’t really provide anything that firefox with a couple of extensions can provide. A webservice + browser extension is a wonderfull combination, and the browser will have a central role in combining different webservices together. But as I said earlier, there are so many people unaware of how life can be so much easier with the right mix of a good browser, good web applications and the extensions that combine the two. For an unexperienced user it can be a little bit overwhelming when he gets to see the long list of extensions and services extensions for firefox. In my opinion the flock approach is right in offering an easier out-of-the-box alternative for browsing and some web services. I can imagine my grandmother using flock and the webservices it supports. Power users might develop plugins of their own, stick to firefox (or opera), or use flock as it is if it happens to support the services they use. If I were microsoft, I would ship a flocky IE for home users and a foxy IE for corporate use. […]


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