Charles Ferguson writes a lengthy and clearly considered piece on Google for Tech Review, focusing on the Microsoft angle and concluding that the only way Google can truly “win” is by controlling a new architecture of computing through the time honored approach of proprietary APIs. Ferguson argues that the search wars are about to enter a major battle for control of standards which simplify the increasingly heterogeneous world of search, and in such a battle, Microsoft is far better suited.
I enjoyed reading this piece, and I am sure I will read it again and again, to more fully consider its argument. But I find myself disagreeing with the premise – why, in this world of the web, do we need to be bound by this winner takes all approach to the world? It works in a resource constrained world of homogenous PCs – once a consumer has purchased his Windows box, he’s not going to easily purchase an emerging competitor – but somehow, it really doesnt’ strike me as the right metaphor for a Web 2.0 world. I do agree that Google would be well served to make its service more of a platform, and that APIs are the way to go. But I’d really be interested in what Tim O’Reilly has to say about this piece, or Tim Bray, or any number of other folks. I’ll keep my eye out…meanwhile, do read the piece. It’s a worthy provocation.