It has taken me a while to respond to a post I read this weekend, by Mike Caulfield (@holden) called Revenge of the OS. In short he points out the fragment world we live in with all of our apps, and the shortcoming of tech companies to actually deliver a solution that truly works for end-users.
Our desktop computer has always been the doorway to our digital worlds, and then came the Internet, and the Web 2.0 age where iGoogle (now dead), Facebook Apps (how many apps do you use these days), and other “mega-services” promised to be the doorway to our now online digital worlds.
Mike talks about how his daughter, who 4 years ago depended on Facebook to access her world, now “moves fluidly between Tumblr, Snapchat, Instagram, and Vine accounts, with the notifications panel her point of integration”. Our devices have become the doorway to our online, digital lives.
All of this is the result of tech companies, driven by their VC overlords, pushing to become the point of control for user identity and the pipes in which that users data flows—-at all costs! Sure these companies pay lip service to the interoperability that could fix this and employ OpenID, oAuth and use APIs, but without true investment and an honest belief in interoperability with other platforms, even competitors, it all means absolutely nothing.
The tech giants have the power to lead, come together and establish strong openID or oAuth alliances, strengthening tools, simplifying user experience, but they don’t. Innovative startups like oAuth.io from Webshell, and Zapier are left to do the heavy lifting, and the user is still left with a fragmented, cumbersome experience as they jump from cloud to cloud, across potentially several devices like smart phone, laptop, xBox, and tablets.
This world is only going to get worse, tech companies of all sizes show very little interest in truly working together. Sure, there are anomalies, and every has their own APIs, but there are no meaningful API standards, very little sharing of API interface designs and no investment in common identity approaches and tooling.
This insanity will grow exponentially defined by the number of internet connected devices that we adopt, including phones and tablets, but is being extended to our cars, homes, clothing, glasses and much, much more.