Episode 25 | The Web is Dead
[00:00] Rob: This is Startups for the Rest of Us: Episode 25.
[00:13] Rob: Welcome to Startups for the Rest of Us, the podcast that helps developers be awesome at launching software products, whether you’ve built your first product or are just thinking about it. I’m Rob.
[00:21] Mike: And I’m Mike.
[00:23] Rob: And we’re here to share our experiences to help you avoid the same mistakes we’ve made. Well, what’s new this week?
[00:28] Mike: Been reading up on the .NET Entity Framework. Just a ton of information. I got a couple of e-books from the Kindle bookstore and have been reading through those. I’m just trying to figure out, more or less, how to use it and kind of wrap my head around it, because I’ve got an upcoming product that I’m going to be launching later this year or early next year. I’ve got the middle tier done, but I still need to build the frontend UI and then the backend database.
[00:54] And traditionally, I’ve kind of always done it using a lot of the older .NET methods. So, using the SQL data reader. I hate writing all that plumbing code. It’s a real pain in the neck to maintain, and I’d just rather not do it if I don’t have to.
[01:09] So I’m thinking the Entity Framework is the way to go. I think you and I had talked about it a few months ago, and I just kind of started getting into it and started reading up on stuff.
[01:18] I’m impressed so far. I remember reading up on it a few years ago when it first came out. It seemed like there were things that were missing. It almost seemed like you didn’t quite have as much control over how it would act under certain situations, and the performance seemed like it…not necessarily that it could have been better, but you didn’t necessarily have as much control over when it would do certain things. And it seems like they have cleaned up a number of those issues.
[01:43] Rob: Yeah. I think it’s on version 2.0. I mean not technically, but I think they’ve kind of done…
[01:48] Mike: [laughs]
[01:48] Rob: …a couple of revamps to it. You know what I’m saying? I think they have addressed quite a bit of the issues. That was my impression. I’ve actually never used it, surprisingly enough. I’ve learned about it every year at the MVP Summit, and I’ve read about it, but you just never know, until you start coding against a thing, all the little intricacies.
[02:04] That’s cool. When was the last time you built a Greenfield app?
[02:07] Mike: It’s been a few years, I think.
[02:09] Rob: Yeah, me too, since I’ve built a .NET app or any app, for that matter, from scratch. Because I base stuff on CMS’s now, or there is existing code, or there always seems to be something.
[02:19] Yeah, it’s been two years since I’ve had to think about what data structure to use. So I do think .NET Entity Framework is one of your better answers for .NET these days.
[02:28] Mike: Right. My big concern is all the backend plumbing, because I anticipate putting a lot of data into this. And the thing that kind of complicates things is that the backend is almost going to be distributed, to some extent. So there is going to be data in all sorts of different places. And it’s gotta be piped through different network connections and through different places on the network, and over LAN’s and over WAN’s. And you have to be careful about making sure that all the data gets to the right places, and that you are not stepping on other bits of data that are already there. So you have to be careful about the data relationships and everything else.
[03:06] So it’s going to be a challenge, but I am pretty confident that I can get it done.
[03:10] Rob: And you are ready to tell everyone, all the podcast listeners, exactly what the application is and what it does, right?
[03:15] Mike: No. No, no, not yet.
[03:17] Rob: [laughs] All right. Well, cool.
[03:18] Mike: When I get closer to launch, like I said, it will probably be pretty close to the end of this year, if not maybe January or February. I’m really trying to shoot for December of this year to have something up and running that people could actually look at and I wouldn’t be horrified if somebody saw it.
[03:33] Rob: Right. Well I’m going to hold you to that. Yeah, about 12 weeks would be middle of December. So mark my words listeners! I want you to email blast us in the middle of December if Mike has not launched.
[03:43] Mike: Thanks. I actually don’t anticipate being launched. I anticipate getting to Alfa or Beta state by that point. I mean I’ve been working on this for a while.
[03:51] Rob: Oh, so you are just going to keep saying 10-12 weeks every podcast.
[03:54] Mike: [laughs] Yep.
[03:55] Rob: “Hey, how much longer Mike?” “10-12 weeks.”
[03:57] Mike: I might bump it up or down a little bit just to give you a false sense of hope.
[04:01] Rob: “8-10 weeks!” “12-14 weeks!” Yeah. Yeah, that will be good. Well, cool. Hey, a couple things for me. As you know, I was on Vista 64 for like the last two years. And I just finally ran into so many problems, especially with Skype blue-screening and all types of stuff. I upgraded to Windows 7 64 bit a couple weeks ago.
[04:19] And at every corner I am like pleasantly surprised. These little things that are surprising me. One thing that I discovered this week, and any listener who has been on Windows 7 for a year, forgive me. But I downloaded an ISO to install Visual Studio.
[04:34] It came down and it had an icon on the desktop, which means that Windows recognizes the file type. And I’m thinking, “What would it recognize, because I don’t have any third-party CD burning software?” So typically, when I would download ISO’s, I would then have to go out and find my discs for Roxio and then have to burn the ISO image, and then go from there.
[04:51] But Windows 7 recognizes it. I double-clicked it and it just popped up this super simple dialogue. And it was like, “You have an ISO. Insert a DVD to burn it.” And that was it! And I insert a DVD and it burned it in a couple minutes. It was awesome.
[05:04] Seriously, I haven’t been this impressed with a Windows release, frankly, since 2000. Really from kind of the 98 to 2000 jump is the last time I was this pleasantly surprised by a Windows release. I think Microsoft did a good job.
[05:15] Mike: You know, it’s really funny you mentioned that, because I’ve been running Windows 7 for a while now. I’ve never noticed that. [laughs]
[05:22] Rob: If you are not doing that, then yeah, why would you deal with ISO’s?
[05:25] Mike: The thing is, when I first pave a machine, I usually install image burn or something like that. And I also have this other product called MagicISO which allows me to take an ISO image and actually create basically a CD drive on my machine that treats that ISO as if it was a CD.
[05:42] Rob: Oh, there you go. Yeah.
[05:43] Mike: So I don’t need to burn anything.
[05:45] Rob: Yeah, yeah. And that’s a good way to do it, too. I saw a complaint somewhere randomly. They were like, “Why doesn’t Windows 7 have that capability native? Why can’t it mount an ISO?” Because I think like a Linux does that natively. And that would be probably a better way to do it, but this certainly worked fine for me.
[05:59] Hey, so the last thing that I encountered over the last week is I found indinero.com. I’ve been hearing about it for months. That’s a YC backed company. It’s basically Mint for businesses, Mint.com for small businesses.
[06:12] So you hook up all your credit cards and PayPal account and such, and then it all feeds into one place automatically. As you catalogue stuff or categorize it, it automatically does it in the future, and then it gives you these cool graphs of where your business is and stuff.
[06:25] It’s pretty cool. I’m impressed with it. What I’m most impressed is that, you know, there are two founders, and boy, I’ve emailed them about a couple different things and they are on it. They just want to help you. You can tell they are the owners, you know, doing the support. And I asked them questions about their plans, and they are just like, “Oh, we’ll totally work with you.” I mean they were basically talking about trying to do a custom thing for me, just because I was asking and they assume I am an early adopter, or whatever.
[06:48] So anyways, it is pretty cool. We will put the link in the show notes. But it’s InDinero.com. I haven’t worked out all the kinks yet. There are some categorization things I need to automate, because I spent like 20 minutes today and it is going to take another few hours if I do it that route.
[07:02] Mike: That’s interesting. I am looking at their site now. It looks like it integrates with a bunch of different things. So it would be interesting to see how…I guess if I had a different business to kind of experiment on, it would be interesting to see how that stacks up versus QuickBooks or various other things.
[07:20] But, you know, depending on how you are doing your business and how you are taking payments for stuff, I suppose it could work out pretty well.
[07:26] Rob: Yeah, that’s the thing. Like, QuickBooks, this is going to be nowhere near as heavy duty as QuickBooks. But it also is like infinitely more useable. And for someone like me, everything, 100% of my income and expenses are all electronic. It’s credit cards, PayPal, and then there are some bank account in’s and out’s credit and debits that come there.
[07:45] So I can literally link up everything and have it all feed in here automatically. And then as long as I categorize it appropriately, in theory, it should sort all that out for me. So I think for purely online businesses it actually might not be a bad deal.
[08:01] Mike: The first link that I wanted to talk to you about today was one that I found on Eric Sink’s blog. In it, it references this other article where somebody talks about how the finder is dead and soon a PC won’t even have files. And Eric Sink kind of took it from there and said that he thinks eventually we are going to go towards a two-tiered computing model where you’ve got computers that are made for the average person and then you’ve got computers that are made for the geek.
[08:25] Like, you and me, we actually want to get the guts of the computer. Whereas most people, traditionally, computers have been, more or less, relegated to the technical people, because they want to be able to get in and twiddle with everything that is going on under the covers and be able to modify different things.
[08:40] But we always get questions from various people who say, “Hey, can you help me fix my computer?”, because they don’t know how to do that stuff and they don’t want to. That’s why things like the iPhone and the iPad have taken off, because it’s essentially closed system. You can’t really screw it up.
[08:55] That’s kind of the gist that Eric gets at in part of his article. What are your thoughts on that? Do you think we are moving towards a two-tiered computing model?
[09:03] Rob: Yeah. You know, I think Apple has been moving towards this with the Mac for a while when they based their new OX on Linux. It’s not that certain boxes are made for consumers and certain boxes are made for techies. It’s like the Mac kind of is that box at this point
[09:16] It hasn’t gone so far as to only be apps-based, but, realistically, you get on a Mac and my father-in-law, who is not at techie, can totally use it. You know, it’s super useable for him. And yet, I could get on there and write Ruby on Rails code and write all kinds of crazy stuff because it has that complex Linux backend. By complex, I mean I can get at all the settings and everything.
[09:35] So I think this is a real possibility. I think going to a consumer model…I mean certainly Apple has shown that, with the iPad and the iPhone and all those devices, they can sell a heck of a lot of these things and people love them. There is no manual; you just kind of click around and you learn it.
[09:51] Gosh, I wouldn’t put it past Apple to come out with a Mac OS that is apps-based. Like, why wouldn’t they do that? And even if you could flip back and forth, like from the apps version or from an apps kind of screen and then go underneath they hood, if you wanted to, and go to the finder and all that stuff.
[10:08] Then, if you were a non-techie user, you could just always use the Apps view. And if you were someone who wanted to dig a little deeper, you could go into the current Mac view with windows and the finder and everything. And then, if you are a coder, you could obviously go to the command line if you want to.
[10:22] So I don’t see any reason why this won’t happen. It seems like these guys have to be thinking about it with the success of this apps model. Why can’t that be integrated to the desktop?
[10:31] I’ve even heard rumors of a laptop from Apple that is going to have kind of the iPad touchscreen. So it’s going to be, you know, essentially a touchscreen laptop. Will it run apps? Who knows? It seems like they could do that and pull it off pretty easily.
[10:45] Mike: I guess that’s an interesting take on it. I hadn’t really considered that. I guess I was more thinking along the lines of thin client computing where you’ve got your computer that is essentially and interface, and all of your applications and all of your data and everything else is not at your device, it’s actually someplace else, like either out in the cloud or on some sever someplace, or even maybe on your own personal server.
[11:10] Maybe somebody comes out…I don’t know, maybe Microsoft build a home server that is more or less there just to serve up your applications to a mobile device that they also have. So that way you get that backend power that you need to be able to do things, but then everything is surfaced visually on the frontend to a very, very lightweight client, that all it’s doing is basically streaming all that information from that backend server.
[11:35] There are a lot of companies that do similar things with application virtualization. HP has got some thin app clients and things like that. It just makes me wonder, though, is this the direction that things are going? Because obviously, there is a lot of Software as a Service applications out there, and you could theoretically take a lot of the built-in applications that people install on their desktops.
[11:56] Let’s take a heavier one like Photoshop. You could theoretically put that on a backend server and then surface all the frontend stuff to a lightweight client that is essentially just displaying things, for lack of a better way to phrase it, just displaying that information and displaying the desktop on that device. And all that backend processing, the image rendering, everything else is taking place on that backend server someplace that is doing all the heavy lifting for you.
[12:22] Rob: Yeah, but I don’t think there is a need for that anymore. With the processors they have today and the memory and all that stuff you can pack into a little iPhone or an iPad, I think the thin client, the benefit of it is it didn’t need so much processing power on the frontend.
[12:35] I mean the thin client, people have been talking about this for years, right? I mean since the ‘70s. And they actually had thin clients back then. And then they went to thick clients, and then the web was supposed to bring back the thin client, which it kind of did if you consider the browser a thin client. But we still work on these heavy desktops with a lot of processing power.
[12:53] So I think it always goes back and forth. I mean we really on the direction towards a thin client with browsers, and then when the Apps Store came out and everyone is moving towards apps, that really does get us back to the, I think, more of a heavier client, or at least individual client applications.
[13:08] So I don’t know. The thin client thing, I’m a little skeptical, just because I don’t know how much of a need there is for it. I do see the benefit of apps, that it really does make it easier for people to use and consumers to use, which is the big market that everyone is trying to go after right now.
[13:24] Mike: Yeah, I think that the advantage of the thin client model isn’t necessarily how powerful that device is on the other end. Because, you know, you look at an iPad, for example. That has a 1 Gigahertz processor in it. And I don’t know how much RAM it has, but I imagine it’s 256 or 512 megs of RAM. And it’s plenty to do what it needs to do. I mean you can stream video from Netflix and you can do all kinds of things on it.
[13:46] And it’s beefy enough to be able to do the vast majority of things that most people would want a device to do. I think the bigger advantage is having all of your data and your storage remote. And if you put it out onto a server or in a cloud or something like that, the consumer doesn’t necessarily need to be as concerned or worried about the typical IT infrastructure that you would have to have onsite or at your house, because most people are just not that technical. Most people aren’t going to say, “I’ve got two or three or four Terabytes worth of movies, so I want to be able to do backups, and I gotta do this and that.”
[14:23] They are not going to have RAID drives. Hard drive crashes, they buy a new one. And hopefully, they were using some sort of backup service. But otherwise, they call their buddy and hopefully he’s got something.
[14:33] So I really think it’s just more the data more than the actual presentation or the horsepower on that frontend.
[14:40] Rob: Yeah, that makes sense. Moving the data to the could I think is how we’ve been heading for several years. I think we’ll keep going in that direction.
[14:49] Rob: OK, so next topic. I have a question for you, and it’s based on an article on Venture Beat. My question is: is email making a comeback?
[14:57] There’s been some interesting discussions around this. So the Venture Beat article is about the success of Groupon. Have you heard of Groupon?
[15:05] Mike: Yeah.
[15:06] Rob: OK. For those who don’t know, Groupon is basically an online deal-a-day site, but it’s local. So essentially, you go to GroupOn.com, you sign up for an email update, you get one very business day, and you enter your zip code and it gives you local businesses. It gives you these crazy deals on local businesses.
[15:23] And you pay for them up front. So it will be like there is a local food stand here in Fresno, and we got like $30 worth of produce for $15. But we had to pay the $15 up front on our credit card. And then we have like a year to use it.
[15:36] So that’s the kind of things they have. They’ve just done some national ones where they had like, I think it was like half off at the Gap or something. I think it was like $50 for $100 worth of stuff at the Gap.
[15:45] But anyways, so that’s how Groupon works. And in this Venture Beat article, they are talking about how one of the secrets of Groupon’s success are these really well written emails, and the fact that they have a zillion emails, and that email is just so penetrating. It’s so engaging. Way more than RSS or Twitter, or anything like that. You just get such higher response rates because everyone has email and people are very responsive; they actually read their email. Whereas I tend to do “mark all as read” in my RSS reader more than I care to admit.
[16:14] So with all that said, I’ve heard some other folks talking about it. Like with the Tech Zing podcast, those guys have been talking about starting an email list to kind of engage with their folks. And then, there was an interview by Andrew Warner on Mixergy, and it was with Vita something. And they are a huge email list that just started in the last couple of years, and it’s health related.
[16:33] I have some other comments, but I want to hear your feedback. Do you think email is kind of making a comeback? Do you think it never died? What are your thoughts?
[16:40] Mike: I guess I’d have to say I don’t think that email every really died. I think that people have been seriously turned off by the amount of spam that they get. But when you talk about something like Groupon, people are actually subscribing to that sort of stuff. They are actually trying to get good deals.
[16:59] And with the economy the way it is, people are doing anything that they can to save money. So things like that that come along, I guess it attracts people to open those emails and to read them and look at what sort of deals they can get because people are trying to save money.
[17:15] I don’t know as it has anything to do at all with email, at least not the response rate of email versus Twitter. And I understand how the response rate on email would be probably much higher than it is on Twitter or RSS or anything like that. But I think it’s more of a byproduct of people trying to save money than it is anything else.
[17:36] Rob: Well I have a question for you. I published a blog post probably a couple months ago now, and it was called “The Warren Buffet of Websites”. I’ll link to it in the show notes. But it basically talks about the way that I view some of the websites that I own.
[17:49] For the listeners who don’t know, I own some software applications—startupish type things, and then I own a few websites that are unrelated to, like, software. And they are basically these niche websites. One of them is apprenticelinemenjobs.com, to give you an example. It’s just this very tight niche and it doesn’t really have anything to do with coding. It wouldn’t be considered a startup or anything like that.
[18:10] So I basically talked about in that past that I view those websites as like a real estate portfolio. They are kind of an investment for me. I’m not passionate about those businesses, but I had been buying houses over the past several years to invest in and own in the long term. And I wound up selling them as the market went down.
[18:26] But I’ve now put that money into these websites. And they generate a monthly income and they have a value. You know, I paid for most of them and I could sell them for a certain amount.
[18:36] And so, I talked about that and I said, “If you are interested, sign up for this email and I’ll just let you know.” I am going to do something, but I don’t know. I kind of just want to talk more about it, because no one really talks about this. I haven’t found a community for it at all.
[18:48] So my question to you is, I’ve been debating. Should I start a blog about this? Should I start just a mailing list and kind of email people once a week with information about this? Or should I start a podcast? What do you think?
[19:01] Mike: I guess I’m a little unclear on specifically what you would be either talking about or putting the webcast together for. Are you referring to people who want to build their own, I guess, portfolio of websites like that?
[19:14] Rob: That’s it exactly. Yep. It’s like building a portfolio of websites. I think I used the term Internet Business Investor. So it’s like someone who buys these web properties, buys them for long term income. And so I want to build a community and start talking about this; you know, talk with other folks about it.
[19:31] Five years ago I would have started a blog, no doubt, right? That was what everyone did. But these days, I am debating. So what are your thoughts?
[19:38] Mike: I see. Oh, so you are asking in today’s world, how would you go about building that community?
[19:46] Rob: Essentially, yeah. I think the real answer is…So I now have a small email list. I should send them a survey and I should say, “What do you want?” But before I send them this survey, what do you think they are going to say, or what do you think I should do? What should my approach be?
[19:58] Mike: I think that the people who are interested are going to probably come around regardless of what format it is. Because if you are offering something that people want, then they are going to find a way to get it. Even if the format or however you are offering access to it is not the optimal way, people who are actually really and truly interested in it are going come.
[20:19] I think that if you have something people want…if you offer an email list and somebody who sees the website and says, “Oh, well I don’t have an email address, but I’m really, really interested in that. I’ll get one.”
[20:29] It’s like any of those membership sites where you have to do something in order to either be invited, or something along those lines. I think that people will find a way to get there. You are obviously going to lose some people on the way, because some people aren’t going to want to go through those hurdles. So the idea is obviously to find the best way to do it.
[20:48] And I think that the only way to effectively do that is to have like a multi-pronged strategy where you’ve got a website, and you’ve got a mailing list, and you’ve got a Twitter account. You kind of have to attack it from a bunch of different ways, and that’s if you want to get the maximum penetration into that market.
[21:01] If it’s just something you are kind of doing to feel out and see how things might go, I would just definitely talk to the people who you already have on a mailing list and ask what they would be interested in.
[21:13] The fact is that they’ve already signed up for the email list. So that right there tells you at least some idea of what sort of response you could expect.
[21:22] Rob: Right. Yeah, I’m definitely in that latter camp of I’m kind of just testing things out and seeing what kind of interest there would be, as well as, realistically, how many topics I have to talk about. I have an idea of some, but until I start doing it and really creating content I won’t know if this is just a temporary thing that I can only talk about for two months or if it’s kind of a long term thing.
[21:41] So I don’t want to go the barrage of audio/video blog and Twitter and Facebook and all that stuff yet. I think I’m going to survey the folks. I think one way that I could lose a lot of them is if I tried to do a podcast.
[21:52] I was liking the idea of doing a podcast, but in talking to folks, a lot of people just don’t listen to audio. They either don’t have the time or don’t make the time for it.
[22:01] Mike: I agree. I don’t think a podcast would be the way to go. A blog might be able to. An email newsletter is probably better. Having a combination of the two is certainly going to help. Because then, if it’s email only, then you are going to have problems because that content isn’t going to be searched. So it’s not going to show up in any of the search engines.
[22:19] But if you have a blog and then you also have a mailing list where maybe you email lit out to people several days before it goes live on the website, people will be more inclined to sign up for your mailing list so that they can get it right away and they get those notifications so that they don’t have to come back. And maybe that’s kind of the way around the RSS problem as well.
[22:38] Rob: Yeah, I agree. That’s actually a pretty good idea to kind of use the mailing list and then offer the material. I mean I would even be willing to do it a month in advance. Like, in one month after the emails are sent, it’s published to the blog. Kind of use the blog as an archiving functionally so that it really does motivate folks to want to sign up for the email list, just because I think there is so much more interaction. They can just reply right there.
[23:00] Although, I guess the drawback to an email list is there are no comments. That’s the thing with a blog is it will actually build community with one another, or it could potentially build community with one another. Whereas an email list is only going to be me broadcasting and then people replying to me.
[23:14] Mike: Come on, you are a programmer. You could get around that.
[23:16] Rob: Yeah, I know.
[23:17] Mike: Replies automatically go to a forum and…
[23:19] Rob: Google groups, yeah. I guess I could. Who knows? All right. So I’ll check that out. That’s cool.
[23:27] Mike: So the other thing I wanted to talk about was I was in an airport a few weeks ago back in August, and I saw on the cover of Wired magazine there was this article called “The Web is Dead”. And it caught my eye. I didn’t have time to read it. As I walked by, I am like, “Man, that’s a really creative way of just grabbing eyeballs and grabbing attention.” And I figured it probably wasn’t going to be a very good article.
[23:48] What I decided to do is I went out on the web and I actually looked it up and read the article itself. I was kind of shocked at how hollow it seemed. Or I guess I shouldn’t say I was shocked. It was more of an affirmation of what I initially thought when I looked at it.
[24:03] But it was more or less when they say “the web is dead”, they basically meant web pages, not the Internet. They mean that people browsing the Internet and using a web browser, that is gradually falling by the wayside while people are kind of shifting more towards using applications that reside on the Internet or are web-based, or use the Internet’s transport mechanisms but don’t actually use the web browser.
[24:26] I couldn’t believe that Wired would actually come out with an article like that, because it just seems self evident, I guess is the word I would use to describe it. I mean you’ve got all these different websites that are out there. Like, YouTube is obviously a huge website and it’s streaming tons and tons of video.
[24:42] And one of the things that it pointed out in the article is that video has really become one of the things that is driving the vast majority of the data on the Internet. And while it contrasted that against the amount of data being pushed by web pages, I’m like, “Well, it doesn’t take a genius to realize that a video is a 2 Gig file, and if you are trying to stack up the number of web pages against that, you are going to need hundreds of thousands if not millions of web pages of content just to create the same amount of data sizes as that video.”
[25:13] It just seemed odd to me that they would even publish something like that.
[25:16] Rob: Yeah, I can see…so they were going for the headline, obviously. Like you said, that was the big splash. And then they did separate out the web from the Internet, which is a proper things to do, right? They are two different things, the Internet existed before the web and all that.
[25:29] I disagree with the conclusion. I am a web developer, so…[laughs] So maybe I’m that old guy. I’m the mainframe programmer: “Mainframes will never die!” But look, they are still hanging around.
[25:39] You know, with the web, I feel like the huge benefit to the web itself, not the Internet, but the web, is that you can get a website up so quickly and you can just put something up on a server and it’s all set and ready to go.
[25:54] Whereas with apps, you know, maybe I’m too short sided. Maybe apps will just become as easy to deploy and to build as a website is. But think about how easy it is to get an HTML page up, or even to get a website up now, where you put up WordPress, you put a theme up and you are done. You know, I mean it is like 10 minutes to do that.
[26:11] Whereas the path to getting apps live and to getting people to use them is just horrendous right now. It’s expensive and it takes a lot of time and such. Things would just have to change so drastically. I know this is an ongoing discussion. I hear people talking about this, like on Cranky Geeks, and This Week in Startup, and This Week in Tech, and all that stuff. I mean they are talking about, like, “Are apps going to replace the web?”
[26:31] I don’t think it will. I can’t see a future. Unless something changes dramatically over the next five years, I really think the web is going to coexist with these app frameworks, with these app-based platforms.
[26:45] Mike: Well, I think the big interesting thing about those apps is that, for example, if you take a look at iTunes and App Store and everything else that Apple is pushing out there, that’s a very closed system. You go in there and you’ve got your iPad, or your iPod, or your iPhone, or what have you, and you are buying your applications from Apple and that’s it. You have no other places to go.
[27:10] And yes, you can get a web browser and you can go to other places, and you can buy applications that reside outside of that system, but I will be honest. It’s a little bit of a pain in the neck.
[27:19] Whereas you go into the Apps store, you click on something, you click install, and it says, “Do you want to do this? Please enter your password,” and then you are kind of charged in the background.
[27:29] It’s not a lot different with the Kindle bookstore, for example. I mean you go in there, you just say, “I’m going to buy this,” and you say, “I’m going to accept the charges,” and you are done. And it just downloads the stuff and installs it for you, and you are good to go.
[27:42] I think that that’s an interesting model, but it sort of creates all these little mini monopolies around different types of things. So in the Apps Store you’ve got the applications themselves, you’ve got music, videos, things like that. And then outside of that you’ve got software applications that reside on your desktop.
[28:01] And it almost seems to me like nobody has really put together the all encompassing store for the web that is able to distribute every single piece of software that every vendor out there is publishing. So I think that that’s kind of the advantage of the web itself, and I think that a lot of the vendors themselves want that. They want that openness so that there isn’t somebody back there who is controlling that monopoly.
[28:24] The software developers don’t like that and they don’t want that. It may make things easier for the consumers, but it’s not necessarily the best model for anybody involved, because even going into iTunes, there’s a lot of things that you go in there and you will have to pay 99 cents for, or $2 or $3 or whatever. But you go out onto the Internet and you can get those things, in many cases, for free. You don’t have to pay for them at all. What you are paying for is Apple to distribute it to you. You are not paying for the content itself.
[28:51] Rob: Yeah. I think history has shown that these walled gardens, they don’t work, right? The proprietary stuff tends to fail and the open standards tend to win. Back at CompuServe and AOL, they had a walled garden. Microsoft tried to launch its own version of the Internet. You even look at like the Betamax/VHS thing—that example everyone brings up where Beta was closed and VHS allowed clones and licensed the technology and such. Even superior systems or systems that were easier to use, they failed in favor of the more open system.
[29:20] So I think you are right. I think the conclusion of Apple has done something great, but the world is not…we are not going to allow one or even a handful of companies to manage this for us. There is always going to be this undercurrent of people pushing forward for the openness of the web.
[29:35] And I think that’s something that, unless governments get involved, unless a lot of governments get together and start blocking things and really nailing things down, I don’t see it. I think that the web, it’s openness alone is going to prove it’s victory.
[29:48] Mike: Like we talked about earlier in the podcast, I think that there is also that possibility that you end up with that two-tier system where you’ve got these walled gardens, as you said. And those essentially attract the people who don’t want to worry about the infrastructure or the computer itself, or the device, and they are perfectly content to let somebody else manage the gate there.
[30:11] You can’t put a virus into an iPad, more or less because Apple basically controls the gate to people putting that application onto the devices. Whereas if it’s a Macbook Pro, you just post it on the Internet and somebody can just go download it, and, technically, you will have caught a virus.
[30:28] I think you will end up with this system where you’ve got both of them in place and they will both continue to survive because they both have a sufficiently large audience of people who want that.
[30:38] Rob: Yeah, I think they serve two different purposes. The apps stores, they are really cool, and they help us, like especially on mobile devices and everything, they help it behave better and respond more quickly. If you are always on the web on your iPhone, it would be a lot more clunky. You can’t always be connected right now at a decent speed. I think that’s really the purpose of apps right now.
[31:02] Well that’s all the discussion we have time for this week.
[31:04] Mike: If you have a question or comment, you can call it into our voicemail number at 1-888-801-9690, or you can email it in mp3 or text format to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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[31:25] Our theme music is an excerpt from “We’re Outta Control” by MoOt, used under Creative Commons. A full transcript of this podcast is available at our website: startupsfortherestofus.com. We’ll see you next time.