Amazon Offers Up The Platform That Google And Yahoo Should Have Built

from the took-them-long-enough dept

For years and years we've been talking about the idea that the trick to "owning" the internet is to become the platform of the internet. It seemed like Google was moving in this direction when word of Google Base first leaked out, but the actual offering turned out to be a whole lot less. It was trying to be a product, not a platform. Yahoo has been slowly, slowly, slowly opening up APIs, but seems so worried to take the real plunge that it's almost too little to mention. It got to the point that we thought some of the more innovative stuff in terms of really being open was coming out of a tiny startup we had present at our Techdirt Greenhouse event over the weekend -- even knowing that such a small company faced a huge challenge trying to stand up against Google and Yahoo. In fact, Openomy's discussion question this weekend was focused around how could they compete against those two. Perhaps those guys from Chicago were looking in the wrong direction. Word is leaking out tonight that it's Amazon that's leading the way with the open platform. This isn't about storage, even though that's what most people will talk about. This is about being the file system and database on which web apps are built. That's much more powerful than just storage. Forget the head fake of Amazon getting into contextual advertising. Combine this announcement with the announcement a few months ago from Amazon subsidiary Alexa opening up their search platform, and start to imagine what developers could do if they can simply plug into an open online file system/database and an open search engine -- and then just build an app on top of that. It's like Amazon just provided much of the database and middleware someone might need to develop a web-based app. Of course, there's a lot of marketing that needs to be done between here and there, and convincing everyone to jump on that platform may not be easy (and who knows, the terms of service may be problematic). That's, in part, because people just don't think of Amazon in this way. However, if Amazon really can convince people that it's providing the basics they need to build the next generation of web apps, Amazon just became a much more interesting company -- not by copying Google and Yahoo, but by going beyond them and doing what both companies have yet to do. Update: Ian Sefferman from Openomy points out what Amazon got wrong, with the big one being that data is applications specific rather than user specific -- making it much more difficult to share the same data in multiple applications.


Reader Comments (rss)

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  1.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 14th, 2006 @ 5:55am

    Amazon is charging for the storage. That makes it no different from existing hosting providers. Google's G-drive will be free most likely, and Google has even more web services and apis than Amazon, plus more apps, including now Writely.

     

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  2.  
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    John Lambert, Mar 14th, 2006 @ 5:56am

    All you need is a browser

    Couldn't agree more. Of course, plenty of folks won't want their data on someone else's server, and others won't want network dependency, but there's a huge untapped market for folks who don't want to waste time or money on their own infrastructure. Yeah, it took them long enough to see it...

     

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  3.  
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    Jerry Kew, Mar 14th, 2006 @ 6:53am

    google base etc

    I dropped a note to Robert Cringely on this and he picked up on it, but in essence, this is it: It has LONG been my contention (as a 30 year standing, hands on, cynical, corporate systems builder) that one of the fundamental reasons that corporate IT is SO expensive is that any business to business relationship needs common facts, yet they are stored and managed at each end of the relationship, to the benefit of confusion and the detriment of clarity. (Good for the IT headcount though!) I believe Google Base has the power to become a trusted third party for storage of these common facts between the parties, rather like banks are the trusted third parties in the financial element of a relationship.

     

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  4.  
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    benmcnelly, Mar 14th, 2006 @ 6:54am

    not so fast...

    This looks cool, yes... But its hardly taking a leap in that direction. A step maybe, but no leap. Also, there is somthing to be said for inegrity of product, and while some have thier qualms with google and thier integrity as a whole, the products they roll out are not comprimising to thier bread and butter, the search engine.

    (side note: The ultimate goal of google apps might be to know who you email and chat with and what you say, besides the feeds you pull down and what you download and the videos you watch, but somehow I STILL dont see google as a muckraking advertising centered slum lord of the internet.)


    What I see, is Google waiting to put itself out there untill it has somthing beyond simply open standards. I think "Google Open *BETA" is still on the way, but it will not be what we think.

     

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  5.  
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    Wainer, Mar 14th, 2006 @ 7:23am

    Storage I want it under my control

    It does not matter who can give me more or less free storage. I may use it for things that does not matter. I want to have control of all the storage with my important stuff; including family pictures. With the price of storage going down the next generation will have huge servers at home with at least two huge storage hd, with easily DVD"eed" operation so you can save all your important stuff not only on HD but also on DVDs.

     

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  6.  
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    wolf68, Mar 14th, 2006 @ 7:51am

    Who cares

    Who cares who is offering webpage storage if it isn't going to be free. any one with a decent brain can setup no-ip.com and have access to their own storage anywhere there is internet. only thing online storage is good for is a place to store your Pron so your g-friend doesn't find it.

    P.S. you don't want people to pay for what they can get for free; unless your the one selling it.

     

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  7.  
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    Jeremiah, Mar 14th, 2006 @ 8:02am

    Interesting catch...

    Nice catch, Mike. Gonna have to chew on this......

     

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  8.  
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    Sleeps, Mar 14th, 2006 @ 8:13am

    Re: Storage I want it under my control

    I couldn't agree more. I mean maybe google respects privacy more than most, but I don't think that I'm willing to have an image of my HD on their servers. With their policy of storing data for infinite time, and (automated) scanning of everything on their servers (talking about GMail), they will gain more information about the general public than most governmental agencies, which is a scary thought.

    On the other hand, do I really need a "GDrive"? Before writing this post I did a quick search on the internet for a HD. I found out that I can buy a 300GB (7200rpm) HD from Futureshop.ca for 150CAD. Shipping is free, and from previous experiences it doesn't take more than 48 hour to recieve the item. Also, XP's Remote Desktop (an amazing feature) gives u access not only to your home HD but to your entire PC, so you won't have to worry about installing Photoshop + downloading a huge file to show your buddy that cool new design you created yesterday.

    Just my two cents on the subject :). Cheers,
    sleeps

     

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  9.  
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    Kevin Dill, Mar 14th, 2006 @ 8:18am

    Open up the API's. You win the game.

    Allow third party integration and make things accessable, and you are king.

     

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  10.  
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    Ian Sefferman, Mar 14th, 2006 @ 8:49am

    The main problem with S3 is...

    The main problem with S3 is that it stores data based on the application, rather than the user. This basically just moves the problem down a level, to Amazon's servers. As a user, you're still out of control of your data (and it's still not centralized in a meaningful way). That stinks.

    I wrote some initial thoughts about S3 on my blog, here:
    http://www.iseff.com/2006/03/aws-s3-what-amazon-got-wrong.html

    Feel free to contact me with any questions one may have about Openomy or my opinions on S3.

     

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  11.  
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    Chris H, Mar 14th, 2006 @ 10:28am

    About G-drive

    Everyone here is rightly concerned about privacy if they take advantage of Google's new G-drive offering. But 256bit (or even 128bit) encryption can easily take care of that. In fact there is a nice little open source app called 7zip that will compress and encrypt a file for you.

    When/if Google releases G-drive I'll start working on a windows shell extension so I can compress, encrypt, and upload the file in the background. If Google wants to spend the CPU cycles and effort to crack the 256bit encryption with an incredibly complex password, more power to them.

    Also, to those of you pricing hard drives, are you going to turn them in to an offsite backup? To ME that is the only reason I'm going to try G-drive. I digitize all of my important financial documents and store them on my computer with multiple backups. The problem with this setup is that if my house ever burns down or floods or gets robbed... I lost everything.

    What I'm doing for now is compressing/splitting/encrypting the files into 10MB peices and emailing them to myself by Gmail where I leave them sitting on the server. If anything ever happens I can download them and re-assemble the file. But having to keep track of all these different file chunks is cumbersom.

    So I say BRING ON G-DRIVE! The sooner, the better.

     

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  12.  
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    Brad P, Mar 14th, 2006 @ 10:54am

    Re: About G-drive

    Yeah, I'm going to have to agree with Chris H on this one. My biggest desire is for a safe secure cheap offsite backup. A tornado/fire/riot/robbery would really set me back.

     

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  13.  
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    Tyler S, Mar 14th, 2006 @ 11:02am

    Depends on the crowd

    I think you'll start seeing a few more people open APIs to "open" up their applications so more people will use them. I wouldn't be surprised if MSN gets in the race.

    I don't think there is any denying that this is being done to generate a crowd of people to help promote their technology either directly or indirectly. The winner of this will be the company that the crowd becomes more fond of. Usually, momentum will help initially attract a crowd and general interest by the crowd can propel the momentum. On a simple level we saw this with Myspace.com. They "opened" up their profiles by letting users customize them and were able to create momentum out of it. I think Google has the momentum to attract the crowd and if their technology is generally liked, then they should end up being the winner

     

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  14.  
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    gh, Mar 14th, 2006 @ 11:10am

    Building your app on their hardware?

    How will that scale? When there is a problem, and there will be, how will their support be?

    Terrible, because they dont care about your business as much as you do.

    Putting your DB and files in their servers is a very bad thing, because it goes against the concept of being good and owning your core competency.

    Databases these days are cheap. You can build a TB mysql or postgres server for under $2000 easily, and you can host on 400GB servers for $80 a month, where you get the dedicated machine, or a machine that they take care of the admin for you.

    If you arent prepared to do this, you arent prepared to run an internet business where you develop your own stuff.

    Yahoo Stores is more the way of a platform, it just needs to be better and offer more. Most people cant develop new software, but they can do online retail or services for which they are good at.

     

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  15.  
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    Brian Most, Mar 14th, 2006 @ 11:19am

    Amazon music

    Amazon are opening their iTMS clone soon, right?

    Presumably there will be an effort to make your music collection Amazon-FS-based. If they can foster a bunch of music library hacks, they'll get the development community eager to try more.

     

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  16.  
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    sam mobo, Mar 14th, 2006 @ 4:44pm

    storage and software

    it seems the larger storage issue is entertainment data, talk about big files. after that, who wants to keep recreating microsoft office with each new computer you get. if someone sets up the apps i need and storage for my tunes and vids, i'm going to take a hard look. if you do it all at the house, backup and disaster recovery will always be issues.

     

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  17.  
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    pwb, Mar 15th, 2006 @ 5:03am

     

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  18.  
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    Bob Scheier, May 3rd, 2007 @ 1:22pm

    Re: Building your app on their hardware?

    My name is Bob Scheier, a free-lance writer doing a story for Computerworld open Web-based storage initiatives such as Amazon's S3, as well as open-sourced based initiatives such as those from Cleversafe. You raised a lot of issues I also want to cover in my story -- was wondering if you would be willing to do a 20-30 minute phone interview sometime between now and May 11th? Please email me at bob@scheierassociates.com if you're willing, and thanks again;

    Bob

     

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  19.  
    identicon
    Todd W, Dec 2nd, 2007 @ 8:24am

    Re: About G-drive

    Fuse + (some S3 filesystem layer) + encfs = infinite secure backed up data storage at a reasonable pricetag.

    Amazon has a winner here.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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