I just deleted a draft I wrote about Yahoo! Pipes closing because Reflections on the Closure of Yahoo Pipes says it all.
looking back, it seems to me now that the whole mashup thing arose from the idea of the web as a creative medium, and one which the core developers (the coders) were keen to make accessible to a wider community. Folk wanted to share, and folk wanted other folk to build on their services in interoperation with other services. It was an optimistic time for the tinkerers among us.
The web companies produced APIs that did useful things, used simple, standard representations (RSS, and then Atom, as simple protocols for communicating lists of content items, for example, then, later, JSON as a friendlier, more lightweight alternative to scary XML, which also reduced the need for casual web tinkerers to try to make sense of XMLHttpRequests), and seemed happy enough to support interoperability.
The death of Pipes doesn’t sting because it was a tool I need to get through my day. It’s just a sign that the times have changed and API openness isn’t valued like it was a decade ago. “End of an era” kind of sting.
A world that used Pipes as often as Excel is a world I want to live in. Where every company I do business with says “of course we have an API!” Imagine what Siri or Google Now or Amazon Echo look like in that world. That’s the world that Pipes represented, the world I’m mourning.
The inkling markets I started last week have been making progress. While I can’t speak authoritatively about why the participants are investing the way they are, I can always make some wild-assed-guesses.
In the OpenID market, the biggest gainers are Wikipedia and Yahoo!. Wikipedia announced that they’re working on OpenID, which sounds like it’s a lock. But you’ll notice that talk was given at the end of April 2006, and since they haven’t done it yet, it’s possible that they won’t make the August 26th deadline of the market.
Another big winner is Yahoo!. They have been pretty aggressive about opening things up lately, they are offering lots of APIs to web developers and I think the feeling is that OpenID is right up their alley. Note that idproxy.net doesn’t count as a “win” for Yahoo! since the market is looking at these web sites consuming OpenID.
One stock that surprised me was that MSN.com has the lowest stock price of the bunch. I realize that Microsoft has cultivated the exact opposite appearance as Yahoo! in that people believe that Microsoft refuses to interoperate with anyone else, which is probably driving the stock price down. It’s still surprising to me because Microsoft has announced that they will be supporting OpenID. I wonder if the stock price is so low because of the perception of Microsoft as closed or if people believe that Microsoft will be pushing OpenID as an enterprisey technology but not something for consumers.
The Jabber market has some things that surprised me as well. While Yahoo! is doing well and MSN is not–which I attribute to the same things as their performance in OpenID–Skype is currently the highest price stock. That’s surprising to me because Skype has not been very open. Of the 5 IM networks in the market, only Skype doesn’t work with Adium. In August 2005 Skype announced SkypeNet API which sounds like it might allow Jabber interoperability, but apparently it’s been abandoned. I wonder if the SkypeNet API is driving up the stock price or if it’s just wishful thinking.
My final observation is that AIM and ICQ (both of which are owned by AOL and interoperable) haven’t moved very much at all. This is notable because AOL and Google Talk (which runs on Jabber) announced interoperability in December 2005 but nothing has come from it yet. Since Google Talk runs on Jabber the path of least resistance for interoperability would be for AOL to support it as well, even if they only federate with Google at the start.