Taking a very quick break to write thoughts about Google Apps. Quick as in Photoshop and my power editor are still open, so I’m writing this midstream into my work. I wanna write it down because surely I’ll forget.
Anyway I stumbled onto this Ars Technica Article re Google Apps, a thrust by Google to support independent application developers via handholding at the start of their project until they can spread their wings and fly so to speak. App development is a topic very close to my heart, being essentially the core of what I’m trying to do with the Exchanges, and having to do with the fact that I’m using subdomains under a main domain (exchange.ph), which I’ve always been convinced will eventually come together when time comes. As to how, I’ll keep that a secret, but it will one day.
So anyway, Google’s guys know this, and also know the considerable technical and cost issues one has to face whilst trying to get things going. I for example am paying a relatively tidy sum for hosting alone, just imagine the cost if I hired developers (I do approximately 90% of the work myself), and / or I wasn’t using a popular CMS. The more complicated the project, say it be Facebook, Imeem, or what Amazon Web Services are doing, the higher the cost. So Google pays for it all, along with provision of an authentication service (wow), a free database (although I gather from the article it isn’t a ‘traditional relational database’, what is it I wonder?), and Google’s BigTable Project among others.
You have to write it all in Python, though, which is more of a preference issue than a technical one.
But the scary part to me is that after you get your app all good, running and popular, things look like they’re designed in a way where you’ve no choice but to allow Google to own you. The article says:
This sounds great to small developers with small sites, but what happens when your cool idea takes off and you’ve got thousands or millions of users? You’ll be paying a lot of money to Google each month—with no easy way out. No matter how much your user base and technology is worth, almost no company will be willing to purchase your idea because of the high cost of migrating that code out of Google.
Of course I’m not basing everything on one article, well written as it is, but at the same time I realize that hey, maybe that’s just the way of the world. Google is Tops A Number 1 right now, with enough influence on the ‘net to be the master of it. So is it a natural progression for Google to eventually own it too?
On one hand you can’t blame them. First, if you’re signing up for Google Apps you owe them the chance to get a crack at owning your service too. I mean, why not, right? You wouldn’t even exist if it weren’t for them. Besides, they’re already in the best position to run and host it, and migration to a new host is gonna cost you megabucks and megaheadaches.
What irks me though is that the last company I know that used exactly that same play to get ahead is the one in Redmond.