First Facebook opened its gates to outside developers. Then MySpace and Yahoo turned over the keys to their kingdoms in hopes that third parties would build cool programs for their sites. Now the Web services companies that got their start creating applications for such open platforms are themselves opening up.
On July 21, Vysr, the maker of RoamAbout, released the code allowing developers to bring their sites to its toolbar. The service already allows users to keep up to date on the latest happenings on Facebook, eBay, and other mega-sites wherever they are on the Web. The hope, says founder Guda Venkatesh, is to greatly expand the number of sites users can interact with through the RoamAbout toolbar.
Should enough sites develop for RoamAbout, Venkatesh believes the toolbar could help change how people interact with the Web. “Before mobile phone, if you wanted to use telephone services you had to go to a specific place where a phone was tethered,” says Venkatesh. “Web browsing is very similar, you have to go to specific sites.”
Venkatesh is banking that, in the future, users will carry their favorite sites with them, seeing updates wherever they are. “The future of Web browsing is not tied to a site.”
Vysr certainly isn’t the only company trying to take advantage of all this openness by building a service to take the portals portable. Web browser Flock automatically alerts users to updates across their various social networks. Similarly, Lukup allows users to communicate across social networks as well.
With all this openness going on, it seems developers are going to have to start being choosy about which sites to program for. After all, every site can’t have the resources to integrate with every new application. Then again, I suppose developers could always just open up their own code in hopes that other developers connect their sites for them.