In an interesting interview with Wired magazine, Google board member Ram Shriram says open systems will always outlast closed ones. Shriram also seems to compare seemingly invulnerable Facebook with AOL—which, ouch!
WIRED: I know you are an open data kind of guy, but closed off worlds like Apple’s and Facebook’s are killing it these days. Can an open approach still compete?
SHRIRAM: Right now reminds me of an earlier era was I was at Netscape, and AOL was an early leader. We know how it ended for AOL. I think ultimately open always wins out. It wins out because you cannot lock data in, you can’t lock people in, they will find a way out.
WIRED: Even out of their love affair with Apple?
SHRIRAM: In Apple’s case it’s really about a proprietary hardware platform running software. I wouldn’t call iOS closed. In the long term, all these businesses are going to have some level of interoperability. I think it will take market pressure to move these companies one way or the other. It will take consumers voting with what they like and don’t like, whether they stick with something or not.
WIRED: It seems like most of us are pretty entrenched in our online habits, what’s going to force us to change?
SHRIRAM: I remember when AOL was small and they were growing like mad. Consumers were coming on in droves because they made it easy to connect to the Internet. That was the single biggest innovation of AOL, when grandmas were signing up, AOL had arrived. Then the model flipped, and AOL became a toll-taker. That’s when it all broke down, and the Internet finally prevailed. I have a belief that is true in the long-term for any of these other platforms: Ultimately, the Internet prevails.
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