Vendor Lock-In – Now Coming to Social Media?

I was made hip to an interesting strategy that Google has started around its Orkut social networking property. Given that Facebook is alluring nearly everyone on to its site, Google has decided to protect its network by blocking the export of contacts and other data as people try to migrate their online personas from Orkut to Facebook.

It reeks of the lame lock-in strategies that companies like Salesforce.com employed early on in the SaaS game: once you put your CRM data on our servers…we got you.  Good luck accessing it when you leave (or in some instances like for data backup and cross-departmental reporting – ever) .

None of this is new, of course. From cell phone platforms, to IM clients, to applications – the development usually starts in silos, and thus creates problems when users try to do things that span across networks. We have seen these types of issues: I can’t send a video message to someone not on Verizon; I can’t IM with someone on Yahoo! IM when I’m on AIM; I can’t tweet from Facebook etc.  – all solved by open standards that usually come after the initial development of the functionality.

Google is acting in retrograde here. Instead of offering a quality experience and the ability to – say – keep your stuff in Orkut but have it appear more freely in other sites like Facebook, it is damaging the openness that the social web promises. Google should realize that ultimately – it is not important to Google where the individuals live online – since Google has a huge opportunity to work with every platform to expand its ad-driven revenue empire.

2 thoughts on “Vendor Lock-In – Now Coming to Social Media?

  1. It’s not clear whether you’re accusing salesforce.com of practicing data lock-in today, or only saying that data access limitations were part of the early days of SaaS in general. In either case, salesforce.com customers today enjoy enormous freedom to use their data as they wish, and of course to take it with them in the event that they ever choose to end their relationship with us. More at http://www.salesforce.com/platform/cloud-infrastructure/integration.jsp.

  2. Thanks for the comment Peter – the comment was more about the early days of SaaS (just as we are surely in the early days of developing business cases for social media IMO) that it was a swipe at SFDC. I have long stated that the “lock-in” strategies with which SFDC has been associated came not from a nefarious intent, but rather the early limitations of multi-tenant architectures … I mean, when SaaS first came about – it was usually being deployed alongside very antiquated systems – so “talking” to those systems was a headache at best if not an impossibility, and getting data in and out of a new system without a ton of web migration tools (that are freely available today) was a difficulty as well…the web as platform has definitely changed all of this.

    As we see more of a hodge-podge of web-based apps inside organizations of all types and sizes, interoperability and integration are far simpler than they were a decade ago…

    Again, thanks for reading…

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