I just ran into this article, which basically states that the rise of walled gardens and locked-down proprietary devices are bringing about the end of web interoperability. It’s an interesting premise, and I’m not sure how much I agree with it.
On one hand, every time I hear “It’s on Facebook,” try to actually pay for music downloads only to find the album I want is only offered through iTunes (and piracy), or run into a service who’s mobile device path is carefully structured to fit the iPhone’s (tiny, awful) capabilities, I get a little more willing to believe it.
On the other hand, most of the examples are built heavily on said interoperable standards; what everyone really wants is content (and a shiny, shiny toy) so over time, most things are going to normalize in a way that allows everyone to more or less use the mechanism of their choice to get to the content of their choice. This may not result in formal standards, but will at least create de-facto standards which allow for reasonable interoperability (possibly with Flash-like issues). Google’s continued role in making that process happen is a major part of why I am so tolerant of their various obnoxious behaviors.
On the flipside, I wonder if there is going to be a new Eternal September effect if some of these things ever come to interoperate with the rest of the Internet. Imagine a mass exodus from Facebook, or a defection from the iPhone platorm; it seems like everyone in those systems should be able to take their skills elsewhere, but both systems are designed to actively prevent the user from forming an accurate mental model of what they are using, and people’s capacity for being selectively cognizant of technology never fails to amaze me.