The Hills Are Greener: Playing Ball

The Hills Are Greener: Playing Ball

Dec 17, 2012

It’s been a bad week for interoperability. First Instagram turned off support for Twitter Cards after Twitter had earlier shut down Instagram’s API access for finding friends. Then Google announced that they are largely shutting down Exchange ActiveSync access, keeping current connections open and keeping it for paid Google Apps accounts, but shutting down new connections for all other Google users. This is potentially perpetrated by the fact that Microsoft licenses several patents to Android hardware vendors, which Google is not fond of. So, they stop licensing the technology from Microsoft, and deal Windows Phone a blow as this was the main way that those phones would connect to Gmail. Now, users may be left without an alternate built-in solution.

It also has the secondary effect of removing push email for iOS users in the default Mail app. Now, they must either use fetch email or go to the official Gmail app. Sneaky move, Google.

There is a clear-cut problem with all these squabbles: users lose. Great features that people frequently used are being taken away not because of any kind of technical reason, but because those who offer the technologies are fighting like children over playing with each other’s toys.

The great thing about technology, especially platform-agnostic technology,, is that users are not bound to one service. They interconnect with each other, and it doesn’t matter where a user is sharing from, or what they are using: because these technologies are meant to work with each other, to allow others to contribute and take part, it is a better experience for users. And now, this is being threatened because of politics.

Well, that and money. Facebook and Twitter are clearly on opposing sides and, Twitter feels innately threatened by Instagram’s photo microblogging, which has at times been more popular on mobile than Twitter. Major revenue and profits are in play here.

But ultimately, the disturbing fact is this: while these companies and services are all-too-willing to build themselves on top of each other’s platforms and services, the second it becomes politically inconvenient, they’re willing to shut them off, and it’s the users that rely on these features that get caught in a lurch because of it.