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Some pieces of learning stick with you your entire life.  Many many moons ago, a former manager of mine named Rich Tong, taught me a simple way to pitch anything.  The formula is “Awesome, Awesome, Doesn’t Suck”.  Best of all, it’s easy to remember too.

Say, for example, you were required to position the Island of Jamaica.  Years ago, Jamaica used to market itself as “The Hawaii of the Carribean”. Jamaica is like Hawaii because it has fantastic sun, sand and beaches (awesome), and because it’s beautiful with the same kind of mountainous terrain as Hawaii (awesome).  Best of all, it’s a lot closer and cheaper to travel too (doesn’t suck).

An elevator pitch is a one minute or less description of what you or your company does — four or five sentences that convey your core proposition.  You can use Rich’s formula to construct your elevator pitch quickly and easily.   Start with an easy hook — a question, or a bold statement of some kind.  Then follow it up with a claim that positions how your product or company solves that problem.  And then three supporting points, following the Awesome, Awesome, Doesn’t Suck formula.

Simple, right?

Let’s say somebody asked about Microsoft Ventures. I might reply with:

“Microsoft Ventures empowers startups to do more. (hook)  We provide world class coaching to help entrepreneurs achieve their dreams. (position) Over the last four years,  our programs have helped entrepreneurs to raise over a billion dollars in financing (awesome), and garnered recognition and awards where they are delivered (awesome).  And best of all, we don’t ask entrepreneurs to give up any equity in their companies when they participate (doesn’t suck).”

Awesome, awesome, doesn’t suck.

Try this formula for your next elevator pitch.


MS Ventures Startup Bootcamp / Waterloo

What would you say if someone offered you the “opportunity” to spend three days over a weekend packed into a small room with 30 or so other early stage entrepreneurs learning the basics of how to run a startup?  Sounds a little crazy, but if you’ve got the passion to build a company, then maybe not quite so crazy, right?

Well, that’s what we did last weekend.  With several colleagues, I ran the first pilot of a new Microsoft Ventures Startup Bootcamp program that we’ve been working on since last fall.   Response was fantastic.  We had attendees from not just Kitchener-Waterloo and Toronto, but also Montreal, Boston, New York and Los Angeles!

Waterloo Startup Weekend Attendees Jan 10.

Waterloo Startup Weekend Attendees Jan 10.

The agenda consisted of a lot of “Startup 101” content, designed to give entrepreneurs (and “wantrepreneurs”) a flavor of what they will face.

9:00 – 10:00 Introductions
10:15 – 12:00 Your Big Idea
12:00 – 12:30 Lunch
12:30 – 2:15 Finding Potential Customers
(includes 30 minute group activity)
2:30 – 4:15 Positioning for Success – Hiring Your A-Team
(includes 30 minute group activity)
4:30 – 6:00 Investments 101
(includes 15 minute group activity)
Networking at the Firkin
9:00 – 9:-30 recap / Q&A
9:30 – 11:00 Harnessing the Power of Social
11:15 – 1:00 Focusing on Growth
1:00 – 1:30 Lunch
1:30 – 2:30 Networking – The Force Multiplier
2:45 – 4:00 Setting Target Markets
(includes 15 minute group activity)
4:15 – 5:15 Navigating the Legal World
5:15 – 5:45 Get Involved in Your Startup Ecosystem
5:45 – 6:15 Finding and Using Local Resources
Networking at the Firkin
9:00 – 10:00 recap / Q&A
10:00 — finish Office Hours


And the feedback was fantastic!  Here is a sample:

“This was my first in-depth startup session and it was everything I was hoping for. Great content, format and presentation from an experienced entrepreneur/speaker. The one-on-one session was very informative and encouraging and provided some good next steps”

We’ll be doing three more of these pilot bootcamps in the coming weeks:

  • January 15-17, Madrid Spain (sign up)
  • January 29-31, Singapore (sign up)
  • February 5-7, Santiago Chile (sign up)

Hope to see you at one of them!

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Are you a Canadian startup?  You might have missed the open application call for Microsoft Venture’s Seattle Accelerator.  Or maybe you just want to know more before submitting an application.

Good news.

We’ll be running information sessions with pizza and beverages in the following locations:

The focus of this cohort is machine learning.  If you’re running a startup that uses data science or machine learning, then you should apply.

And if you’re uncertain about the benefits, check these out.

  • Access to our facility in Seattle, the cloud capital of the world
  • Warm introductions to top Microsoft customers
  • Connection to a network of investors, influencers and industry-leading mentors
  • Access to Azure Engineering Team, including ML experts
  • ‘Equity free’ program, $25K no-strings attached grant
  • $500K Azure credits!



Patents. Worth it for a startup?

Yesterday I ran across a Time Magazine piece from August 28th, titled Here’s How Startups Actually Start Up. As I read, I found myself nodding my head in agreement with much of what they had to say.  And then I reached part 3, which reads (in part)

3. Shoring up intellectual property

Padlocking your product or service with an array of patents, trademarks, or copyrights can sound terribly dull, but the truth is it’s one of the most important steps to ensuring a budding company’s success. Without these protections, a competitor can swoop in and copy an idea without having to pay a dime for all the hard work done until this point.

“Issued patents may be used to stop competitors from entering the field and to recover damages for any infringement that occurred,” writes attorney Michael Kasdan in this excellent intellectual property explainer for startups. In addition, he writes, patents can protect a startup from getting sued for patent infringement by someone else.

Wrong. Let me be clear – patents are worthless to a startup.  Companies that focus on patenting technology early in the game focus on the wrong thing.

Patents are:

  • Expensive and time-consuming to file, and maintain.   That makes them a huge distraction from building the business.
  • Not  guaranteed to grant.  Examiners may have questions for months or years, and decide that there is prior art, or nothing defensible.   Meanwhile, their queries are a huge distraction from building the business.
  • Often invalidated, or trumped by someone else’s patents.

In addition:

  • Most are worth very little on the open market from a licensing perspective.  And what business are you in really?  Licensing your IP is just another distraction.
  • No startup actually has the wherewithal to prosecute a violator.  And, of course, that would distracting from the main focus of the business.
  • Moreover, in some cases a business pivot has rendered the patent irrelevant to the new business direction.

Lest you think this an ill-informed point of view, check my LinkedIn profile – I have three patents to my name.  They took years to grant, and these are the only three that granted of the 12 applications filed.  Cost was over $200k.  Worst of all, the company isn’t in the business anymore that these patents protected.

Some will argue that they can be used defensively at some undefined future point, should you find yourself in someone else’s gun sights.  Congratulations.  You weren’t distracted from building your business.  You’re now big enough to matter, because you maintained focus on your business.  Now it’s time to negotiate a license.

Patents are a big boy game, and nothing that a nimble, focused, fast-moving startup should ever consider.



Text from a speech I delivered at the first annual National Crowd Funding Summit on Tuesday March 3.


Good evening, and thank you all for sticking with me until the end of the day. And since I know that I’m the second last speaker between you and the cocktail hour, I will keep my comments brief.

I live in Kitchener-Waterloo. Last Friday morning, this was the headline of our local paper, The Record. Schneiders – the meat packers that have operated for 125 years – are shutting down their Kitchener operation. John Metz Schneider founded the company in 1886 after an accident at the button factory where he worked left him unemployed. He, his wife, and his mum began making sausages, and selling them door to door. It was an 1880’s start-up, which thrived, grew, survived the great depression and became one of the largest meat producers in Canada. J.M. Schneider was an entrepreneur who started a company, and transformed his local economy in the process.


And last Friday Maple Leaf Meats, who have owned Schneiders for the last decade, shuttered the doors in Kitchener. The paper was full of images from that day.

The last rack of bologna.

The last package of sliced bologna making it’s way down the conveyor.   Incidentally, this particular package is going to the local museum.   I know there’s a joke in there about preserved sausage…

This story does have a silver lining. It’s about the march of technology. The production from Kitchener is being taken up by a new state-of-the-art factory in Hamilton, where robotic sausage makers will be able to output six times as many sausages per worker as the aging Kitchener infrastructure.

This next photograph was taken inside the remains of the Kitchener Frame plant on Homer Watson Boulevard. Kitchener Frame, or as it was known when I first moved into the area in the 1980’s as Budd Automotive, made automobile frames and bodies. It was a product of the 1967 auto pact that permitted US autos to be sold in Canada, provided that as many cars as were sold here were manufactured here.   Budd took advantage of the auto pact, purchased a plot of land for 300,000 dollars, and hired 700 people to build car frames.


This sprawling 50-hectare site prospered in the 1970’s and 80’s. You could drive by on any day and see railway cars stacked full of frames for AMC, GM, Ford, Mercedes and Chrysler. Subdivisions grew up around it. Budd transformed the local economy through entrepreneurship.

In the late 1990’s a series of expensive plant upgrades, followed by cancelled contracts as automotive manufacturing moved offshore, resulted in disastrous losses, layoffs, and ultimately the closure of the plant.

Right now, in an act of urban renewal, this massive iconic site is being dismantled to make way for a new industrial, commercial and retail site.

Our economy is in the throes of change. Yes, it has been said before, but it has never been more apparent than today, when the shock of falling oil revenues from the prairies, confront the reality that revenues from the shrinking manufacturing sector in the heartland of Canada can’t make up the difference

This next photograph is where I hang out most days. This is the Communitech Hub, and Microsoft has a space here. Communitech is an industry organization like MaRS here in Toronto. Communitech works with about 1,000 local technology companies, and provides co-working space, space for the Velocity, Launchpad, and REV incubators and accelerators, event space, and more. It’s a space for today’s generation of entrepreneurs – today’s J.M. Schneiders – today’s start-up founders.


This is a pretty cool site. And the story of the site is just as cool.

In 1849, Reinhold Lang came to Berlin Ontario (which is modern day Kitchener) and with his son George established a small tannery. The Lang Tanning Company then went on to become the largest producer of sole leather in the British Empire. During the First World War, Lang Tanning also produced saddle leather. During the Second World War, it supplied sole leather and leather linings for aircraft gasoline tanks.

Reinhold Lang was an entrepreneur too. In fact, it’s likely that he bought hides from J.M. Schneider for his tanning business – an 1880’s version of what we in our industry today would call an ecosystem. Reinhold Lang understood the transformative power of starting a business, and built a local economy that supported families, businesses, restaurants and more.

The Lang Tannery was put under by the rise of synthetic materials. The building survived however, and today its high ceilings and exposed brick are a fantastic environment for a new breed of entrepreneurs – technology entrepreneurs.

In fact, that entire part of the Kitchener downtown, which used to be dominated by factories producing rubber, felt, tires, leather, buttons, hockey skates and shoes, is now being transformed by today’s tech start-ups into desirable urban living and working spaces with restaurants, offices, bars, galleries and entertainments.

It’s an example of the transformative power of start-ups in our economy.   And you see it everywhere across Canada, whether it’s in Kitchener-Waterloo, the old harbour in Montreal, King West and Liberty Village in Toronto, or downtown Vancouver. We are changing the economy, one neighbourhood at a time.

Some of you may be aware that I’ve only been with Microsoft for the past month. My role is to work with the Canadian Start-up Community. So for the last few weeks I’ve been speaking with start-ups, investors, angel groups and community organizations like MaRS and Communitech. In these conversations there is no topic where there is more difference of opinion than the topic of financing. Some say there isn’t enough. Some say there’s plenty. Some say it’s not there at the right stage.

In 2014, $1.9 billion was invested in Canadian start-ups. In fact, we’ve seen year over year increases in investment since 2008, and it wasn’t so long ago that annual Canadian venture investments were less than half what we saw last year. It looks like a great time to build a company, right?

For context, last year US venture investors financed 3,900 startups, and invested around $29 billion. A nation with ten times the population of ours financed 10 times as many companies, and while investment rounds were larger than here, US start-ups don’t have the same advantages economically that we do – programs like SRED, FedDev, and of course the benefits that come from living in Canada – like Universal Health Care – that start-ups in the Valley have to pay for out of pocket.


You can see from this map that the economic benefits of the start-up economy are spread across the country too. Of course there are large centers in BC, Ontario and Quebec. Those are the most densely populated areas.   British Columbia is dramatically punching above it’s weight with almost half as many start-ups as Ontario, and more than 50% of the funds raised, despite having just 1/3 of the population.   And of course, you can see the impact that oil production has had on venture-funded innovation in Alberta – money is going to oil there, not tech.

So is there enough funding? Well, there’s definitely a gap. Innovation in fundraising, like crowdfunding for example, may pave the way to closing that gap. And, of course, the US Venture industry itself is beginning to take note of what’s happening here and starting to finance Canadian innovators. For example, Kik Interactive raised another $38 million last November, in a round led by San Francisco based Valiant Capital Partners.


Here’s another take on whether there’s enough funding. Los Angeles based VC Mark Suster put together this chart in 2012 to explain how the cost of launching a start-up had fallen so dramatically.

  • In the year 2000, starting an internet company meant buying expensive proprietary servers from a company like Sun Microsystems, or IBM, and kitting them out with proprietary software.
  • By 2005, open source, combined with low cost commodity hardware, cut that cost by a factor of 10.
  • Just four years later, the ability to purchase fractional cycles of commodity servers from cloud providers cut that cost by a factor of 10 again.
  • And then entrepreneurship programs at schools like Waterloo and Stanford taught skilled developers how to build companies in their spare time… you didn’t even need to raise money to pay a staff anymore. You could just bootstrap, and still build a product.

So it has never been cheaper, never been easier to start a company. And that’s true whether you’re based in Waterloo, Toronto, Bangalore, Shanghai, or Capetown.

And it has never been more exciting to be part of this start-up economy, because every one of those businesses, in small and large ways, can contribute to the local economy, and can transform the lives of the people around you.   Seriously! Whether you’re Ted Livingston trying to take on WeChat from his headquarters in Waterloo, or my Shanghai-based friend Jonah Lin who built his company MMMOOO over the last five years, in communist china, that supports 30 people and their families to build apps… entrepreneurs like you, in this room, are starting companies, and transforming economies.

I told you earlier that I worked for Microsoft, and that my job is to work with start-ups in Canada. Many of you in this room, like me, probably didn’t think that Microsoft was doing much in Canada with Start-ups. Probably unlike many of you, however, I picked up the phone and gave them a call, and offered my help. Yes… I have a bit of an ego. They took me up on my offer… and that’s how I ended up here, talking to you about start-ups and the power of start-ups to transform economies.

And I have to eat a little crow. It turns out Microsoft has quite a history of working with innovative start-ups. In 2008 we launched BizSpark, which is a program that gives start-ups $150/mo of free credit on Azure (our cloud service), plus free software and tools like MSDN subscriptions and Office365. And qualifying high consumption start-ups can get up to $60,000 annually in Azure credit under the BizSpark + program. The Imagine Cup is a contest for Student Entrepreneurs as well, and of course we have over 100 Microsoft Innovation Centres, we partner with over 200 local accelerators, and we have actually got 7 Microsoft Ventures Accelerators as well.


And, the local team here in Canada has partnered with over 2,800 start-ups for BizSpark and Microsoft Azure.

So we do a lot with start-ups. We’re just uncharacteristically humble about talking about them. Who would have thought?

How many of you have heard about the Canadian Narwhal club? No? Maybe you’ve heard about the so-called Unicorn Club? Unicorns are start-ups incorporated since 2000 with a worth of more than $1 billion. This label was created by the Wall Street Journal to describe the hyper successful start-ups of today. I’m sure you know a few – like Uber, and AirBnB. At the end of last year there were about 40 in the United States.

Well, the good folks over at Galbraith Capital in Vancouver coined a term for a Canadian “unicorn”. A Narwhal. Personally, I like it. Narwhal’s are actually real!

In any case, Galbraith singled out 4 Canadian companies with value of more than $1 billion for that honour (there goes that 10% ratio again!) – Avigilon, HootSuite, Shopify and Slack. Even more interesting to me was the list of up and coming Narwhals that Galbraith put out – companies like Desire2Learn, RealMatters, and PointClickCare. Last week we took that list of Narwhal’s and Up and Coming Narwhal’s and compared them to the list of companies that we work with at Microsoft Canada. It turns out a very large percentage of them are partnered with us in one of the start-up programs that we run.

So the next time someone says “I’m from Microsoft and I’m here to help”… try not to laugh OK? It turns out we have a pretty good track record of helping.

And if you’d like to speak to us about how we can help, we’ve sponsored the cocktail hour this evening, and there will be a few of us cruising around there. So come and drink our liquor, socialize with the other attendees, and if you’re so inclined chat with us about what we can do to help you realize your goals.

I’ll leave you with one last thought. I started off by talking about J.M. Schneider – a man who sold sausages door to door in his neighbourhood, and in the process built one of the largest meat packing business in our country. And I ended this talk by talking about companies like HootSuite, and Desire2Learn. We are a nation of entrepreneurs, and we have been for our entire history, whether we’re making sausages, shoes, car parts, mobile phones or software. We’ve had some economic shocks recently, but it’s through entrepreneurship that we will recover from those shocks. And it’s never been a better time than now to build a company. So hat’s off to you, whether your ambition is to build a great local restaurant, a socially relevant non-profit, or the next Narwhal. And hats off to the funders in this room, who are backing this generation of entrepreneurs!

Always remember that the work that you do, and the companies that you start, are the most transformative and powerful force in our economy today.

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Jim Balsillie on Innovation in Canada

Yesterday’s Globe and Mail published an op-ed by former BlackBerry co-CEO Jim Balsillie on Canada’s innovation economy.   Titled “A Tale of Two Economies and Two Headlines“,  Balsillie makes the case for why Canada needs different infrastructure to support commercialization of intangible products such as intellectual property – infrastructure that is different from that required to support resource and mineral commercialization.

He writes:

“In the past 32 years, growth in Canada’s commercialization of our ideas, often measured by “multi-factor productivity,” has been virtually zero. During that same time, U.S. multi-factor productivity has soared.”


“Our schools and incubators need to teach and value commercialization better. Our public institutions need a policy plan for Canadian ideas commercialization. Existing federal and provincial industrial programs need to invest in it, and public-private sector collaboration structures need to begin addressing it on a priority basis.”

Over the last few weeks I’ve met with many entrepreneurs and investors as part of my early work within the Canadian innovation economy on behalf of Microsoft.  Many bemoan the gap, noting that at the Series A financing round, most Canadian startups either flame-out, sell-out, or move-out — and “out” means to Silicon Valley where the innovation ecosystem is more fully developed than it is here.

What’s your point of view?  If you run a startup in Canada, what are the most pressing issues confronting you?  I’d love to hear from you in the comments below, on twitter, or via email.

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Some answers

First, thanks to everyone who wrote yesterday here, on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn to say congratulations.  It’s exciting for me to be back to work, working for a company I respect and know, and working in Canada.  I’ve spent my morning at the Communitech Hub, and all morning long people have been dropping by to introduce themselves.

I intend to spend most of my time interacting directly with entrepreneurs in the start-up community.  I don’t have an office, but you’ll be able to find me two or three days a week at the Communitech Hub in Kitchener.  Microsoft has a space there, and it seems like the best place to hang out.   So if you’re around, drop by and say Hi!  Or ask questions about Bizspark, or the Microsoft Ventures Accelerator program.  I’ll try to answer them to the best of my ability.  And we’re working on getting a few more local Microsoft employees to hang out here part time as well — it’s certainly better than braving the traffic on the 401 to Microsoft’s Canadian HQ in Mississauga.

I’ll also get out to Toronto, and other start-up centres through Canada as I’m able.

Some things are going to change, and I’m not just talking about my business card.

BlackBerry fans have asked if I’ll keep using a BlackBerry phone.  I’m sorry to say, no.  I’ve been issued a brand new Nokia phone, and it will become my main device as soon as I can port my phone number over. Similarly, my Mac is going to be replaced with a Windows laptop running Windows 8.1.  I will continue to use BBM, but until BlackBerry ports BBM Channels to Windows Phone, my BBM channel is going to lie fallow.

One intriguing question I spotted on CrackBerry was about cross platform development tools.  While I’m personally in favour of portable application development frameworks for HTML5, or portable platforms like Qt and tools like Cordova, unlike my time as a BlackBerry employee, I don’t have any direct influence over tool development programs.  And, I suspect that Microsoft’s large evangelism team has already reached out to those folks.

Once again, thanks for the welcome and good wishes.  And drop by the hub for a chat.


My Next Chapter

It’s a fantastic time to start a company. Whether you’re a kid with a laptop on a beach in Brazil building mobile applications, or a Silicon Valley student with access to a 3D printer, it’s never been less expensive to get going, and more efficient to reach global markets.

At BlackBerry, I witnessed first hand the power of start-ups to effect transformation. I’m not just talking about the massive transformation that an Uber or Facebook represents. I met dozens of entrepreneurs around the world who all said the same thing — starting companies had changed their lives by creating opportunities and helping them to contribute to their local economies.

So over the last few months I have thought a lot about getting more directly involved in the start-up world. Two goals have shaped my thinking – I want to engage with start-ups, but not necessarily run one, and I want to stay local.

So why not run a start-up? I’ve founded three companies in my career, and been part of several other start-ups. Rather than found another company, I want to apply some of what I have learned to help other founders – to scale the knowledge I’ve acquired beyond simply doing another start-up myself.

Perhaps one of the best places to do that, right now, is here in Canada, especially in Kitchener-Waterloo. That’s why I want to stay local.

Kitchener-Waterloo is home to over 500 start-ups. It has three institutions of higher learning (University of Waterloo, Wilfrid Laurier University and Conestoga Polytechnic), an active investor community (the Golden Triangle Angel Network is one prominent investment group), multiple accelerators (Velocity, Waterloo Innovation Network, and the Accelerator Centre are several) and fantastic support from municipal governments. And of course, there’s Communitech.  Communitech is the glue that binds all the region’s startup commercialization activities together, in addition to helping mid-size and enterprise tech companies grow and succeed.  Kitchener-Waterloo is also close to Toronto, Canada’s largest financial center and business market. Kitchener-Waterloo may be the perfect “primordial soup” for early stage companies – something like Silicon Valley must have been 50 years ago.

Some of you reading this may know that I once worked for Microsoft. Despite being away from Microsoft for 14 years, my experiences there provided some of the most enduring lessons of my career — lessons that I have relied on daily in every role I’ve held since. Those lessons range from campaign mechanics, to management, culture, scale and execution. As many of my former staff at BlackBerry will tell you, we often took lessons from Microsoft and applied them to great effect.

So it was natural that one of the first companies I reached out to after leaving BlackBerry would be Microsoft. As of last Monday, I’ve rejoined Microsoft in the role of Principal Technical Evangelist. My beat is Canada – not just Kitchener-Waterloo. My boss is Microsoft Chief Evangelist and Corporate Vice President for Developer Experience, Steven “Guggs” Guggenheimer. I’m part of the global Microsoft Ventures team. And we run programs, like the Microsoft Ventures Accelerators, that are focused on helping early stage companies achieve their full potential.

If you’d like to know more, join us at the Communitech Hub In Kitchener-Waterloo on February 12th for a Collision Day and celebration of Microsoft Canada as Communitech’s newest partner.

Now, who wants to get started?


bitHound wants to help you write better code.

You may have seen last Monday’s announcement that Kitchener-based bitHound has taken $2 million in investment, led by Michael Wekerle. Monday afternoon I dropped by bitHound’s offices to meet with two of bitHound’s co-founders Dan Silivestru and Gord Tanner, and find out what all the excitement was about.

bitHound’s value proposition is pretty simple. To quote from bitHound’s cofounder and CEO, Dan Silivestru:

“It’s not hard to write code. But it is hard to write high-quality, maintainable software. Our goal is to become a trusted member of a development team, providing valuable insights and actionable recommendations leading to great software.”

The demo I saw was still pretty early stage, but it made it very clear the ambitions of the company. Through code analysis, they want to provide a roadmap for a software solution’s quality to both developers and management.

As Dan explained, bitHound’s engine considers diverse factors like code complexity, how often code in a particular file is touched, bug density and other factors in order to ascertain the quality of the code. bitHound can then point out potential trouble spots to developers. Currently, this product is available to JavaScript developers, hosted on GitHub, and looking to improve code quality, increase delivery cadence and reduce the number of bug encounters. Developers can sign up for early beta access today. In the future, bitHound will also be able to deliver insights such as the likelihood of on time delivery by considering factors such as the newness of the code versus the historical accuracy of prior estimates.

Lofty goals, but if achieved, immensely valuable.

“War is peace.
Freedom is slavery.
Ignorance is strength.”
— George Orwell, 1984 

Reading John Gruber’s Native Apps Are Part of the Web feels like reading a George Orwell novel.  Gruber argues that native apps are simply alternative interfaces to HTML, but that they both connect to the same back-end.  Therefore, they are part of the web.  What he’s describing is a client-server app, which was the predecessor model to web applications.  As an industry we abandoned the client-server model in the late 1990’s because web applications were less expensive to build, more maintainable, and less brittle over the long-term.

John says “users love apps”.  True, unless they’re not available on the users platform of choice.  Take, for example, recent flights that I’ve been on where in flight entertainment systems have been replaced by iPads and streaming video.  What if you don’t have an iPad?  The helpful folks at the airlines will rent you an iPad for your trip.  I know I love shelling out extra cash to airlines to watch a movie.

“Developers love apps”, Gruber writes.  It’s true that developers love the revenue opportunities from apps, but they don’t love the fragmentation that multiple proprietary platforms require – APIs, marketplaces, media formats, etc.  As a developer, your choice is to invest three or four times as much to have apps on multiple platforms as a single HTML app would cost; provided of course that all platform vendors implemented HTML5 to a consistent level.  And they don’t.  Sigh… feels like Netscape vs Microsoft in 1995, doesn’t it?

The promise of HTML5 was that we could finally get to a unified and rich app model across all operating systems.  Too bad that didn’t happen.

No, those who love native apps the most are the platform vendors. Apps make customers sticky to platforms.  Apps are the walled garden that deny users freedom of choice.

Welcome to AOL… circa 1994.