With various discussions and things taking place right now, it reminds me of a phrase that has been around for some time.
The phrase in question is “Embrace, extend and extinguish” and comes from Microsoft and their strategy within various markets and products. And looking at, for instance, the web browser world it is exactly what Microsoft were trying to do.
There are three steps in the process (taken from the Wikipedia article on Embrace, extend and extinguish):
- Development of software substantially compatible with a competing product, or implementing a public standard.
- Addition and promotion of features not supported by the competing product or part of the standard, creating interoperability problems for customers who try to use the ‘simple’ standard.
- When extensions become a de facto standard because of their dominant market share, they marginalize competitors that do not or cannot support the new extensions.
Some people argue that this is exactly how development should be done and that it’s the best way to breed inventions. Personally, I disagree. I’m all for companies coming up with new features, but then when the dust has settled, I’d like to see them standardized and implemented consistently across the board. Competition should take place in terms of compelling and useful UIs and user experiences, not by proprietary technologies.
We have wasted so much time and money with products being incompatible, and have had so much code branching tending to companies’ ideas, competition practices and, dare I say it, egos. Enough of that, and let us instead put our efforts into creating a future where your choice of operating system, web browser and other software follow given standards and are completely interoperable.
What is also vital is that all of this technology is patent-free, since it’s the only reasonable future of the web and way to accomplish this goal. Therefore, instead of embracing, extending and extinguishing, let us focus on doing the only sensible thing: creating a platform for the entire world.