Well Played Google

Over at Hackernews, someone posted a very interesting link to a Google project - Contributor by Google

An experiment in additional ways to fund the web.

Today’s Internet is mostly funded by advertising. But what if there were a way to directly support the people who create the sites you visit each day?

Introducing Contributor by Google.

At first blush, this is exactly what we need. Companies monetize. They monetize by selling you. The exchange occurs with ads. What you browse through Google? Google sells that information by selling ads. Twitter? Spare change.  Your Facebook photos of your kids? Congratulations, you just sold your first born son.

So the idea of replacing the ads, cutting out the ad and the purchase with a transaction I control is immediately appealing... I reach for the enroll button... but wait.

This is Google we are talking about. The company that invented surveillance on the web. They have perfected it on a scale that the mere thought of reduces the NSA to to Homer Simpson dreaming of donuts. Google has to make payments based on your browser history - which gives them to browser history too mine, which they then can then use to sell more ads with, and monetize you.

Well played Google. well played.




Safari is not IE, But the web is not Flash. Apple's evergreen problem.

There has been considerable controversy over a recent article slamming Apple's recent activity around Safari, with the usual heavy hitters in the Apple community disagreeing. Unfortunately the responses (and to be fair the original article) have focused completely on what Apple focuses completely on - the mobile market, with commenters on both sides positing that technologies are not being adopted because Apple just doesn't want technologies that enable web apps to compete with native apps and that this is just another iteration of the apple/flash wars.

 I don't think it really has much to do with mobile at all. Let me propose a alternative theory:

The last time I sat in a executive meeting at my company, the entire executive team (with only a single exception) were using Macbook Pros. Apple's dominance in the enterprise world is a under-reported facet of their renaissance.  This certainly isn't because Outlook and Office is better on the mac then on the PC, and it's not due to the success of the App Store. It's because Apple can do anything on the web that anyone else can do, with better hardware and OS to boot. It's on the web that enterprisey, unsexy apps exist that enable the 91% percent of people who don't work at a startup to do business.

Apple invests in having their own browser platform because it's not about running Facebook as a web page instead of a mobile app. It's that it allows apple to provide the time management system, the sales portal page, and cloud computing front ends. 

It seems to me that there is a huge discrepancy between how the consumer and mobile focused apple community is perceiving the web and how it is actually evolving:

Yep. We live in a world where we build very very large complex JavaScript applications that do all sorts of enterprisey things and leverage complex APIs. Technologies like Angular and React, and features such as Web Components, WebRTC, ShadowDOM, IndexDB and ServiceWorkers  are key to allowing developers to write the next generation unsexy enterprise apps. These applications probably will never have a native apps. The cost of fragmenting the application is simply too high to justify the value of a application. 

The problem is that at current trajectories, it will become harder and harder to write these apps on safari and expose them on iPad and iPhone. Right now, Apple is at 53% coverage of the newest Javascript APIs, easily the lowest of everything except Opera Mini and tied for IE.  What's worse is that the web is evolving faster and faster; fueled by the evergreen policies of Firefox, Chrome and soon Edge.  When Edge ships, Microsoft will get a 12% bump between IE 11 and Edge. Between Chrome 36 and current, Chrome will have improved by 16% of API coverage. Firefox will have improved 12% in that same period.

Since 2013, Apple will have improved 8%.

I believe that apple is committed to the web. They can't afford not to be. This even includes technologies that could have a ramification to their native strategy like web-assembly.  I think it's the inability to execute at the same scale and speed of evolution that the evergreen browsers are executing at fault here. Judging by the universal standards of the web, Apple is forcing a multi-year refresh cycle to get access to standard features. 

Apple's features around browsers and things like power consumption and JIT are great for the end user. They make things feel snappy. But every investment comes at a cost, and the cost here has been that Apple is simply not staying current with some very important web technologies. It doesn't hurt apple today, but over the long run, it may make it possible for someone to Firefox them.

The good news here is that there are a lot of options. With all that money trapped in Ireland, nothings to keep Apple from hiring some very good European programmers to start adding features to Safari. If that's not a option, why not let someone Firefox them? Allow Chrome and Firefox a spot on the phone just like the desktop. The web wins, and apple wins.