Yesterday, Google's Vic Gundotra proudly exclaimed that "I'm not interested in screwing over developers" as he piled on top of Dalton Caldwell's post accusing Facebook of being naughty on the platform front. I'm not here to defend Facebook or Twitter or anyone else who takes lumps in Dalton's blog, but Vic's opportunistic post warrants a little scrutiny, as I always worry when people in power positions go over the top to proclaim what they're *not* doing (Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton come to mind). I rather hope Google can back up the claim going forward, because it certainly hasn't in the past. To be specific, I'm talking about things like ...
- Google deprecating its SOAP Search API in favor of the more restrictive AJAX API ... see here
- Google deprecating its Translation API ... see here
- Google deprecating Tables and Records feeds for the Spreadsheets API ... see here
- Google, well, just deprecating lots of APIs in general ... see here ... and then trying to pacify developers with pitiful 1-year support commitments
- Google jamming the websockets protocol onto developers before it was actually done, in a fiasco that was well-chronicled ... here was our take on it
- Google head-faking web devs with Gears ... in 2008, Chrome + Gears was supposed to be the new desktop, but in 2011 Gears was pulled out of Chrome ... see here
- Google marshaling the developer community around Open Social, only to put it out to pasture later ... see here
- Google marshaling the developer community with an API for Google Buzz, only to pull the plug later
- Google marshaling the developer community with an API for Google Wave, only to pull the plug later
- Google doing next to nothing to solve the Android fragmentation conundrum for developers ... see here and here
- Google making late payments to Android developers in Europe, exposing a number of other developer support pain points ... see here
- Google welching on its promise to Mozilla to remove H.264 support from Chrome in support of their WebM science project, effectively forcing Mozilla to reverse course on H.264 ... see here
The list goes on and on.
Now, to be fair, Google is no different than any other platform provider, in the sense that we've all (including Microsoft), at one time or another, changed/reversed/adjusted course on a number of things over the years, either because of developer community feedback, technical strategy course-corrections, competitive pressures, "the world has changed" scenarios, etc., but a little humility goes a long way, and Vic's post, which All Things D describes as having a "sense of delight", contains none of it. Ten-year support commitments are always helpful, too, but I'm not sure Google's big on those, either. Maximizing the amount of developer investment in things like skills and code that come forward into new technologies is another piece that we continue to work hard at, but Google seems more inclined toward making a clean break with these sorts of things (and I'm being polite here). Enough with the compare & contrast ... the point is this: opportunistically taking advantage of an anti-Facebook meme to grandstand about how Google+ is somehow the shining beacon of platform goodness just feels oily. But more importantly, it deserves some proper context ... the reason Google is or isn't holding back on a write API for G+ is irrelevant ... this is about taking a humble tone in the wake of a dubious track record.