If you throw enough bricks a wall will emerge..
In early 2011 Stephen Elop's famous burning platform memo predicted the war of ecosystems. Little did anyone know it would be a reminiscent of the cold war.
In June of 1987, when I graduated from high school, Ronald Reagan stood at Brandenburg Gate and gave what some regard as the last great speech from a sitting president. In our current context where we are surrounded by vitriol and venom, there are some who might argue the actual impact of this particular speech, but there are very few who would deny that, at least in part, President Reagan's speech helped to spur the removal of the wall that divided Berlin. In just 25 years since that speech, it seems that the titans of tech have forgotten the lessons of history.
Twitter Throwing Bricks, Building Walled Garden
In June of 2012, despite the lessons of the historical stagnation of East Berlin and the universal acceptance of Metcalfe's law, Twitter started its mad wall-building crusade by ending its partnership with LinkedIn. Users of both the Twitter and LinkedIn platforms could no longer sync their posts from Twitter to LinkedIn by including the #li or #in hashtags.
While Twitter's intention may have been to preserve its audience, its walled garden approach to LinkedIn has had an unintended consequence. LinkedIn's referral traffic to Facebook has jumped by 1000% and LinkedIn now has surpassed both Google and Bing combined as a source of traffic to Facebook. I ask you Mr. Dorsey, how is that wall looking now?
in the West today, we see a free world that has achieved a level of prosperity and well-being unprecedented in all human history. In the Communist world, we see failure, technological backwardness"
Soon after the LinkedIn breakup, Twitter threw another brick, this time aimed at Instagram which had just been purchased by Facebook. Twitter removed Instagram's access to the friend feed API which to many observers seemed to be a jab at Facebook.
Soon after the Instagram restriction, Twitter threw a truckload of bricks in formally announcing a series of API changes supposedly designed to prevent other services from cannibalizing Twitter's viewing audience because the ecosystem of data consumers is overpopulated with undifferentiated clones.
On the heels of the big API announcement (which was just over four months after Tumblr started tearing its API walls down), Twitter threw a brick yet again and now blocked Tumblr's access to Twitter's friend feed to prevent Tumblr from growing its own network.
The barrage of bricks has not stopped and the types of targets are clearly getting more diverse with the inclusion of the innovators at IFTTT. IFTTT's gloriously unique product (worth checking out if you have not heard of it) would never be considered a threat to Twitter's audience retention, nor is it a social network of its own and yet it has been victim to the wall. Existing IFTTT recipes with Twitter triggers will be disabled in a few days. At that point, IFFFT's twitter interaction will be, like LinkedIn, limited to publishing on Twitter.
there stands before the entire world one great and inescapable conclusion: Freedom leads to prosperity. Freedom replaces the ancient hatreds among the nations with comity and peace. Freedom is the victor."
More Bricks Than a NCAA Division 2 Game
Twitter is not alone in wall building. Apple has decided to build the walls of its walled gardens even higher. iOS6, much to the chagrin of many of the Apple fanboys has thrown some bricks of its own at Google by pushing Google maps and YouTube out of friendly iPhone territory.
The apps are out. Google Maps and YouTube are out of iOS6. Apple's Maps app is out of favor with its users. Who would have expected Apple to give users an unequivocally worse experience with maps and video? Google has a replacement YouTube app for iOS6 that is already available and is getting positive reviews, but there is no announcement about when a native maps application will be launched. It is a near universal certainty that Google will release an updated maps app that is sure to beat Apple's offering for a while to come given the cartographic head start that Google has amassed over the last few years.
But there remain armed guards and checkpoints all the same -- still a restriction on the right to travel, still an instrument to impose upon ordinary men and women the will of a totalitarian state."
How Long Before The Walls Come Tumbling Down?
The most interesting parallel to me is how not too long ago, Microsoft was found guilty by the trust busters in the federal government for what are pretty close to the same behaviors that Apple is engaging in -- building the functionality offered by others into the platform and then making theirs the default shipped version of the offering. Apple cannot even say that their offering is beneficial to customers! Apple's official response is that customers should be patient with a sub-standard offering all in the name of Apple having a bigger stranglehold on its smartphone platform than it already has.
To those listening on Twitter and iTunes, a special word: Although I cannot be with you, I address my remarks to you just as surely as to those standing here before me. For I join you, as I join your fellow tweeters and posters on LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr and Google, in this firm, this unalterable belief: Es gibt nur ein Internet. [There is only one Internet.]
Mr. Cook; Mr Dorsey; Open these gates.
Mr. Cook; Mr Dorsey; Tear Down These Walls!
Editor's Note: Agree with Stephen? Check out: Don't Demonize. Monetize: the Genius of APIs, the Trend of Platformification.