Dan Bowman tossed a very interesting rant my direction. Basically, it’s an inside view on what Google is doing wrong and other companies do right.
I admire Google for allowing what could be embarrassing to remain out on the light.
Steve Yegge says he’s worked for Amazon and Google, hated Amazon and loves Google, but Amazon did about 1% of things better. And one of those things, specifically, was critical: Platform and API development.
Microsoft Windows is the most common example of a platform. And one of the secrets of Microsoft’s success is that Microsoft uses as much of its own software as possible. This doesn’t eliminate all problems, but it does mean that as long as you deploy the products the same way Microsoft does, it works reasonably well. If the software didn’t work at all, the company couldn’t survive while running on it.
Google has built a lot of things. Best-of-breed search, for one, but that’s not all. Google Maps is extremely good, and so are Gmail and Google News. But there’s no API that ties all those products together and lets you integrate or extend them. Not easily, at least.
Android is a platform, but that’s an afterthought. Its main reason to exist is to provide inexpensive handheld devices that can access Google services from everywhere.
Maybe the lack of a unifying API is what’s holding Google+ back. If it could tie in with other Google services, it would certainly give it something Facebook doesn’t have. It’s probably the only potential advantage Google has over Facebook. Facebook, as Yegge observes, is something different to every user it has. Some use it to share pictures, some use it as a sort of microblog, some use it like e-mail, and some just play games on it all day.
If Google+ can be things Facebook can’t, there’d be reason to use it. But right now it can’t, so people aren’t.
So I think his arguments make sense. Though I speak as a small-time pundit, not as a developer.