Nat spends a few minutes beating the same drum that I've beat repeatedly:

Today I found out about Picasa, which Google acquired. It's an image archive/management package. And I found out about Farechase, which Yahoo acquired. It's like for airfares, or something. I don't really know what they do, because I can't use them--they both require Windows. I know there are smart people at Google and Yahoo, but they obviously had no say in this. How will you get influencers to praise your product if they can't run it?

I wish I knew the answer to that question. I've been asking it for a while now in various forms. So far, the only conclusion I can draw is that maybe influences really matter only when you have a very small market share and want to capture a lot of in a hurry?

I'd dispute that claim, but the available evidence seems to support it.

Interestingly, he doesn't recommend porting all this stuff to the Mac. Instead, he points at Flickr (which I just praised yesterday) as an example of what to do:

Take a lesson from Flickr. This is web gallery done right: HTML and Flash interfaces, web service as much as web server, aggressively multi-platform.
Flickr gets that the future of interaction lies further and further away from Microsoft Windows, whether in other desktop operating systems or handhelds or TVs or ... Should you only be able to find good fares when you're sitting at your home computer? Look at the popularity of webmail--people want their mail regardless of which computer they're sitting at. Digital photos are just as integral a part of people's lives. Flickr agggressively embraces this decentralized world, and that's why people are talking about it.

Preach on, brother.

A nice byproduct of that is that Linux users would also be in the game with little extra effort.

In related news, my only Windows box (that I typically use only to run flight analysis software) died over the weekend. So I'm not being difficult. I really can't check this stuff out. I ended up stealing a few minutes of Radwin's time to see something on his Windows box yesterday.

This makes me sad.

See Also

Posted by jzawodn at September 08, 2004 08:35 AM

Reader Comments
# Steve Friedl said:

"Shafting"? You mean "not catering to fringe users"?

on September 8, 2004 08:45 AM
# Jeremy Zawodny said:

Yes, Steve. The leading fringe.

on September 8, 2004 08:47 AM
# justin said:

Konqueror -> Tools -> Create Image Gallery

no need for picasa over here.

on September 8, 2004 08:50 AM
# Jeremy C. Wright said:

But still the fringe. Still more users of Netware than Linux ;-)

Anyways, that wasn't why I wanted to post. I don't think the future is "away from Microsoft Windows" so much as away from OS dependence. You'll always need an "OS" even if all it does is tie you straight into the Net where you get all your apps and everything.

That OS could be Windows, but services and apps will one day be such that it shouldn't matter what the OS is, which is the key: abolishing OS dependence, not simply getting away from Windows.

Btw, Hi Jeremy!

on September 8, 2004 08:50 AM
# Jeremy Zawodny said:


Exactly. That's why I titled this entry the way I did. It's not about Mac OS X or Linux or FreeBSD. It's about catering to users regardless of the OS they use (as long as it's relatively modern).

on September 8, 2004 08:57 AM
# Pavel Merdine said:

Please, stop advertising flickr. There are many other services that are multi-platform compatible.

on September 8, 2004 10:01 AM
# Jeremy C. Wright said:

Jeremy, sorry, it was your quote that got to me, not you:

"Flickr gets that the future of interaction lies further and further away from Microsoft Windows, whether in _other desktop operating systems_ or handhelds or TVs or"

Pavel: it's his blog, he can talk about whatever he wants, especially if it's a service he knows, uses and enjoys.

on September 8, 2004 10:09 AM
# Jeremy Zawodny said:


Care to name a few of those services?

on September 8, 2004 10:34 AM
# Kalyan Varma said:

So should the future be all web-based applications + web services ?

I'm not too sure about that.

on September 8, 2004 11:06 AM
# Jeremy Zawodny said:


I doubt it. But it's hard to argue that web and distributed applications won't play a very big part in future computing.

on September 8, 2004 11:15 AM
# kasia said:

Are linux and osx users really that much of a fringe anymore?

At any rate, I don't think it's wise to dismiss non-windows users so easily considering they tend to be among the more technical and vocal residents of the Internet.

on September 8, 2004 11:30 AM
# Al said:

Non-Windows users? Hell, I can't even use Yahoo mail WITH Windows (well, IE). You click links (like Addresses, Log Out, etc.) and they don't even work.

on September 8, 2004 12:01 PM
# justin said:

One should stand back and remember that Google bought Picasa - the didn't develop it in house. I find it a tad unfair criticising them over this - for all we know, their programmers are probably beavering away on Linux and OS X versions right now.

on September 8, 2004 12:23 PM
# Mark Beeson said:

"Flickr agggressively embraces this decentralized world, and that's why people are talking about it."

If Flickr is so decentralized and is such a great app, why then do I need to spend time on the learning curve to use its interface? Every web service struggles with this same issue. The web browser should not be your primary GUI! Future computing will be in network-enabled smart clients that use OS-specific toolkits. Napster. AIM. NetNewsWire. iTunes. Tivo+Netflix.

Look at Mozilla vs. Firefox for the perfect example of platform-agnosticism vs. using a system's widget set. Firefox's usability is so much greater than Mozilla's, because of all the bogus XUL elements that Mozilla tries to drop on the casual user. All of these great web services that are getting hyped like crazy these days require larger and larger learning curves as people struggle to remember exactly how to perform tasks.

You're an OS X user, Jeremy, I'm surprised you haven't yet sung the praises of iPhoto. That app alone is ten times better than Picasa, or Flickr, or any other web service that doesn't have any OS hooks. iPhoto has a nearly identical featureset as these web-enabled applications, you aren't handing your data over to a third party, it integrates with other applications on your machine, and you're using an OS-specific toolkit. That's a win all around.

on September 8, 2004 01:47 PM
# Jeremy Zawodny said:


For whatever reason, I've never been fond of iPoto. I use it for making quick slideshows for family but that's about it. The interface is confusing (to me). I had no trouble at all figuring out Flickr.

If I stuck with iPhoto long enough to figure out what was funky about it, I'd describe my experience here.

on September 8, 2004 01:53 PM
# Mark Beeson said:

That's a shame. iPhoto has an incredibly powerful, extensible plugin system that a lot of developers have latched onto.

I use BetterHTMLExport religiously:

Additionally, whenever the parents come over to visit, they get the latest slideshows on the TV via the Tivo Desktop integration with iPhoto. That never fails to impress.

on September 8, 2004 02:04 PM
# Stewart Butterfield said:

But iPhoto and Flickr (or any of the other net-based photo sharing services, from the 'classic' printing-based services like Ofoto, Shutterfly, Shapfish, etc., to SmugMug, Fotki, Zoto, picturem, whatever) just *don't* have an identical feature set. The former is primarily for organization and the latter is primarily for sharing. Flickr happens to have a lot more organization-type features to it, but that doesn't make it the same as iPhoto**. Many people use the Flickr plugin for iPhoto and employ both two together.

** For example, iPhoto doesn't generate feeds of the latest photos from your friends that you can subscribe to, or allow you to post photos to your blog directly from the app, or have any of the group or collaborative features that Flickr does, and I know that there is a lot that iPhoto does that Flickr doesn't.

(Aslo, Picasa is a windows-native app, not online. If iPhoto is better, it is better by a factor of 1.1 or something, not 10 ;)

(Totally agree with you the Firefox vs Mozilla point - Flickr is just getting started: once we've had the same five years or so to get it together, I bet you'd like it.)

on September 8, 2004 04:38 PM
# Rick Gregory said:


I like Flickr too, but comparing it to Picasa is an apples and oranges things - one's a desktop app, the other's not. Flickr doesn't support non-Windows OSes, it just doesn't care about the OS. As long as you're connected, it's fine, but if you need to work offline, you're screwed. And, yes, I know that one day we'll be connected everywhere, but we're years from that.

Personally I'd like to see Flickr or someone create a Flash version of Flickr for use on the desktop that you can sync to the online service.

on September 8, 2004 04:39 PM
# TDavid said:

Fix that Windows box, Jeremy. As a developer don't you need to stay abreast of the leading desktop OS?

And I've always wondered if the Window bashing would be as loud if the tables were turned and Mac or Linux owned 90% of the desktop market and was being bombarded by viruses and worms from every corner. Those who honestly think they wouldn't have their share of issues if things were reversed are smoking some good stuff.

Wait, Mac did own the market, didn't they like ... 20 ... years ago.

on September 8, 2004 04:40 PM
# said:

Pavel Merdine, who asked that you "Please, stop advertising flickr. There are many other services that are multi-platform compatible" seems to be a Fotki developer, heh. See here:

on September 8, 2004 06:02 PM
# KJ said:

TDavid: You're right that Jeremy should fix his PC and stay abreast of the Windows-monopoly world.

But you're way wrong about the Mac owning the market. The Apple II owned the small computing market (over 70%) before the IBM PC and DOS arrived, and the Mac was lucky to ever even get 10% after that. Please get your facts straight! See for a good historical summary (and his opinion of how it happened).

And the popularity of Windows-bashing and virus-attacks could have more than something to do with MS' own behavior...

on September 8, 2004 07:45 PM
# KJ said:

Mark and Stewart make good points about network-enabled smart clients vs. browser-based web services. Most of these clients create a more consistent (and simpler) UI for exchanging information/multimedia across the web.

Now note iPhoto doesn't run on Windows or Linux. The flip side of complaining about Picasa would be that Apple should do that. Or are they exempt because they make hardware!

Rather, should application developers be creating "platforms" (for one or more OSes) like iPhoto that allow for other developers to create plug-ins like Flickr to extend the platform's functions, especially into the Web-collaboration space? And those Web-based plug-ins are the things that should be implemented on multiple OSes (and working possibly with different platforms - iPhoto/Picasa on each OS) to increase the value of the network.

Anyway, Flickr looks like what iPhoto/.Mac could've evolved into in version 4 if Apple was more social-networking/collaborative focused - instead Apple stopped at publishing paper albums, and one-way publishing like the other photo websites. And now both seem to be languishing...

on September 8, 2004 08:59 PM
# KJO said:

I suspect that Nat may be truly incensed because Picasa have implicitly challenged his self-assumed sobriquet of "influencer". Is this a self-esteem thing? A "if you slight my OS, you slight me" kind of thing? (or even the other way around?).

Perhaps the prosaic truth is that Picasa made a brutally objective business decision that they couldn't care less about Linux, its boosters or associated influencers. They decided to save money by developing for a single platform only - and the most ubiquitous one at that.

With all due respect, Nat sounds like a blind man complaining about the colors offered by a car manufacturer. Picasa doesn't work on Linux etc. So what! It's not a monopoly. There are other competing products. So, go get one and use it. Get over it, get on with it.

on September 9, 2004 04:46 AM
# Rick Walter said:

Jeremy, It's called market share. Windows has 95% or so and everything else has the remainder. Management would be spending their money less than wisely porting it to Apple and the other fringe OS's. Of course if Apple would get over the Betamax licensing thing and follow the VHS licensing model they might be able to be a 'real" OS (in market share terms.)

on September 9, 2004 04:51 AM
# Jacques said:

For example there are services like which provide a online gallery based system using the same software as picpix if you are a live journal user. Typepad also has an online photo album of sorts.

I suppose people still have the choice of using software like Gallery or other webbased ones. I prefer running the software on my own hardware.

on September 9, 2004 06:03 AM
# TDavid said:

KJ - you are partialy correct, I misspoke on the "Mac" -- meant to say "Apple" doh! My bad there :)

And viruses and worms have everything to do with exposure. Why write a virus or worm that impacts 5% of the marketplace? These lamers want to disrupt as many people as possible. If they only put their skill to good, positive uses, the net would be a safer place.

Until we have a different world with Microsoft not in the pole position, it really isn't something that can be tested.

on September 9, 2004 07:05 PM
# Pavel Merdine said:

I think, almost any of HTML service is multi-platform compatible.
I didn't want to say about our service (Fotki) actually. Our competitors are compatible too, as far as I can see. For example, Maybe I'm wrong, but tell me where it is incompatible with major non-windows systems.
I believe that any huge site is compatible just because they should receive numerous number of complaints.

Jeremy C. Wright:
He can post anything he wants, but I can post any comments as well. :)

on September 10, 2004 03:37 AM
# Arthur King said:

Many companies create technically superior applications (and operating systems), but lack the funds and marketing skills to promote them effectively. Until that time, we just have to deal with these kinds of slights. As a Linux user (I have one WinXP / Win2K dual-boot that is waiting for me to find drivers before I convert it to NetBSD), I have gotten used to these things, just as the makers of these services and products have gotten used to not having my money.

The people at the NetBSD project learned something in making their version of the BSD operating system aggressively cross-platform: When you write as close as possible to fully-standards-compliant code, and keep any platform-specific code in separate files / objects, you tend to write better, faster, more secure code.

Firefox / Mozilla:
I use both. FF is my fave browser. On my computers, it is the fastest browser available (except on Win2K KMeleon seems to be slightly faster as long as you only open ONE "layer"). But before I can use it, I have to install several "extensions". Mozilla has a lot more buttons, is more configurable out-of-the-box, but is sluggish compared with IE, Firefox, KMeleon, Galeon, Epiphany, Konqueror, or even Netscape 7.

on September 10, 2004 11:11 PM
# David Hooper said:

It's not "fringe" in the music, entertainment, video, or graphics industries.

Microsoft uses Macs for this stuff, by the way... Well, actually everything except for word processing and email.

on September 10, 2004 11:28 PM
# pasha sadri said:

farechase relies heavily on client side technology (js, dhtml) to do its thing. Up to now, writing such software has been easier on the MSIE platform simply because there were many more working examples/documentation available for doing so (eg: MSDN website).

on September 11, 2004 12:33 PM
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