This last week brought another blogger-driven Facebook tempest in a teapot when Robert Scoble tried to synchronize his Facebook contacts with his Plaxo contacts. Facebook shut his account down, drawing howls of protest from Kara Swisher at the WSJ and a typically thoughtful rebuttal from Nick Carr. By the way, Facebook already supports a one-way import of gmail contacts into Facebook.
There are two interesting points from an Enterprise Web 2.0 perspective here:
- There's no lock-in like SaaS lock-in. Software as a service offers a spectacular downside in the case that the service provider doesn't like the way you are trying to extend their service. At its most extreme, closed SaaS is the Roach Motel of enterprise software - your data and logic may check in, but they're never coming back out, as I wrote here.
- Scrape-ability will be an increasingly important battleground: I sit on the board of Kapow, a company that has powerful tools for gathering data from public web sites. If those web sites block access by bots (this is what happened in the Scoble kerfuffle)
- Microsoft Silverlight: everything bloated and retro about Windows brought to Internet Explorer. Silverlight, despite its technical innovations, is yet another attempt to assimilate the recalcitrent web beast into the Microsoft borg.
- Adobe flex: everything proprietary and designer-wonkish about Flash brought to any browser. Given that enterprise developers are more interested in formatting data than getting their company logo to spin and then fade, making the design-heavy Flash language an enterprise standard is a lost cause.
- Facebook: if you liked AOL, you're gonna love Facebook! Facebook represents a cautionary tale for enterprises looking at SaaS solutions like SalesForce and Netsuite - make sure you have an ironclad way to get your data and logic back out!