App Internet and the FT

Picture of various walled gardens

Walled Gardens

former Colleague Simon Phipps reports on the FT(Financial Times) move to escape the app trap, that I discussed in my earlier App Internet post. Simon useful covers a number of points I didn’t get to, so it’s worth reading the full article here on ComputerWorld(UK).

This is a great example, they’ve clearly done a great job based on their web page feature list, but since I don’t have an iPhone or iPad, couldn’t try it out.

Simon makes an interesting point, that the FT is incurring some risk in that it is not “in” the app store, and therefore doesn’t get included in searches by users looking for solutions. This is another reason why app stores are just another variation of walled gardens. Jeff Atwood has a good summary of the arguments on why walled gardens are a bad thing here. In Jeffs 2007 blog, he says “we already have the world’s best public social networking tool right in front of us: it’s called the internet” and goes on to talk about publicly accessible web services in this instance rather than app stores.

One of the things that never really came to pass with SOA, was the idea of public directories. App stores, and their private catalogs, are directories, however they have a high price of entry as Simon points out. What we need now to encourage the move away from app stores is an HTML5 app store directory. It really is little more than an online shopping catalog for bookmarks. But it includes all the features and functions of walled garden app store catalogs, the only exception to which is the code itself. In place of the download link would be a launch, go, or run now button or link.

We’d only need a few simple, authorized REST based services to create, update, delete catalog entries, not another UDDI all encompassing effort, although it could learn from and perhaps adapt something like the UDDI Green Pages. This is way out of my space, anyone know if there are efforts in this area? @cote ? @Monkchips ? @webmink ?

8 Responses to “App Internet and the FT”


  1. 1 Simon Phipps June 16, 2011 at 3:04 pm

    Two that spring to mind are Google’s Chrome Store and the rumoured Spartan activity at Facebook.

    • 2 cathcam June 16, 2011 at 4:17 pm

      Do you feel that the Spartan project will have an open catalog then that would allow me, for example, to submit a description, images and a link to my HTML5 app on a non-facebook platform? I’m kinda sceptical of that. Surely, FB are just looking to release the Apple control point by creating a different one?

      Chrome maybe less so, but its still by inference the “Chrome” store. I’ll have a poke around here and see if perhaps this is something we might help with. I guess ultimately anything that is truly open risks becoming the next spam and SEO trap. Needs more thought… thanks for the feedback…

  2. 3 cathcam June 16, 2011 at 3:52 pm

    Another example I meant to use when writing this post was the current walled gardens that are ereaders, each device has an app, each app has a catalog, finding the book you want is one challenge, finding it at the most competitive price is another. It’s a create example of lock-in, you are locked in to the app, the app locks you into the catalog, the catalog locks you into the prices.

  3. 4 Guest June 17, 2011 at 9:39 am

    Your photo–akin to a happy John Malkovich–was in itself sufficient for me to read your blog. (And your experience and insights easily match his in your own field). I’m glad I did. Thank you.

  4. 5 Willy K. June 19, 2011 at 9:45 pm

    Apple tired this with the first iPhone. They wanted everyone to build web apps for mobile safari. It didn’t work. Users wanted the superior experience of native apps and from there the app store was born. This post just seems like one big jab at apple.

    • 6 cathcam June 20, 2011 at 10:26 am

      No, it really isn’t a jab at Apple, and I agree, back then, the native app experience and even to a point now, is better. However, with HTML5 rapidly appearing in browsers, and W3 standardizing access to native h/w features like GPS, Cameras etc. which will deliver a standardized way of accessing the devices which will make HTML apps good enough.

      If you think about it, mobile apps are no better than Windows apps that use the Internet. Mostly no one installs Windows apps just to get function they can access through a web page. Especially if they have to pay for the app, and potentially sign-up for a vendor specific marketplace, using vendor specific software just to get that app.

      So this really isn’t a dig at Apple, Microsoft or Google, etc. etc. It’s also not a dig at Kindle, Nook, etc. The point is that overall its not worth paying the price and loss of freedoms to use vendor apps despite the fact many developers and made significant money building them, client/server failed because it was too platform specific, so will vendor apps.


  1. 1 Moves: Ajaxians join walmart, HTML app stores? Canonical CTO leaves to sync Web. Centralised vs decentralised, the Great Game Goes On – James Governor's Monkchips Trackback on June 17, 2011 at 10:11 am
  2. 2 Moves: Ajaxians join walmart, HTML app stores? Canonical CTO leaves to sync Web. Centralised vs decentralised, the Great Game Goes On Trackback on June 17, 2011 at 10:36 am

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About & Contact

I'm Mark Cathcart, Senior Distinguished Engineer, in Dells Software Group. I was formerly Director of Systems Engineering in the Enterprise Solutions Group at Dell, and an IBM Distinguished Engineer and member of the IBM Academy of Technology. I'm an information technology optimist.

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