Ted Dziuba has a post today entitled "OpenSocial, OpenID, and Google Gears: Three Technologies for history's dustbin". I'm going to take each one of those technologies separately...
Hey, does anybody remember Google's OpenSocial? Come on, it hasn't even been a year since it was announced. OpenSocial was supposed to unify social network application developers behind one common API. Revolutionary, innovative, all that sh*t.
Well, OpenSocial was designed as a stopgap for the Facebook API and in that sense it worked. Facebook opened up it's own API to compete which in many ways created the commoditization of the API that Google was targeting to begin with.
So OpenSocial will probably end up on the dustbin but it served it's purpose just the same.
Still nothing? Ah, okay. What about OpenID, the best damned federated authentication scheme the world has ever seen, but nobody in the world can figure out how to use?
On this I think he has a somewhat valid point. He goes on to say that "If there's one thing all engineers love to do, it's create APIs" and I think there's some truth to that. The problem with OpenID from the start has been that it solves a problem that users really don't seem to care about.
Of what value is OpenID to a bunch of people who keep their password written down on a post-it stuck to their monitor?
Beyond that OpenID takes something from the vendor that they value very much:lock-in. Someone with an established Amazon ID is more likely to buy from Amazon than Buy.com. But if Amazon and Buy.com both adopt OpenID than the user can just as easily purchase from either. So why would Amazon allow users to sign up for an OpenID on their site? They wouldn't and that's pretty much the global problem with OpenID.
Users don't care enough to force its adoption and Vendors do care enough to block it. Given that I have to ask how they thought they'd succeed in the first place.
If not, surely you must have heard of Google Gears. This was the Firefox plug-in that was supposed to establish Google as a first-rate operating system vendor, even before Chrome was supposed to do the exact same thing?
Now we get to the ignorant part.
Gears (Sans the Google now) has actually been enjoying a lot of success for a platform in what is essentially an early beta stage. The point with Gears is that it actually does solve a problem that developers have and I think that will serve it well in the future. With all the companies that have adopted it or have announced plans to I don't see any reason to declare it dead.
Also, Gears was not just a Firefox plug-in. It is currently supported in IE, Firefox, Safari and Opera has even gone so far as to build support into both its desktop and mobile browser.
Finally, Gears is being designed to converge with the (long in coming) HTML 5 spec. Meaning that Google is actively submitting the various pieces of Gears as standards and there's every reason to believe they'll be adopted. Making it even less likely that Gears will "disappear" in the future.