Here’s yet another gratuitous bandwagon blog post on Google Apps. We’re starting to see an explosion of “sandbox platforms” for third-party developers. Basically, you get a constrained subset of common features in exchange for access to a beautiful playing ground with lots of toys and playmates. We have mini platforms such as Amazon’s web services where you get a highly-scalable and slightly expensive “infrastructure by the pound”, the iPhone SDK where the lucky developers blessed and approved by Apple are granted access to create native apps for mini-unix mobile device, expanded “platform” APIs like Facebook where you bring your own code and infrastructure in exchange for greater exposure to the FB user base, and now we have Google Apps that kind of mixes all these together.
I get the feeling that all these developments (while wonderful news in terms of opportunities and competition) are more or less part of a transitional purgatory as infrastructure costs plummet while capabilities rise. Why would developers embrace such constraints if they have access to greater freedom at a small cost. I don’t think it’ll take much time for developers to outgrow sandboxes (at least the good ones). Before it was more or less Geocities/Tripod, shared hosting, to dedicated. Now we have a variety of in-between stuff.