At heart, I’m a contrarian. When someone says it can’t be done, my overwhelming urge is to prove it can. So when I heard the news that Microsoft or T-Mobile lost user data for as many as 1 million Sidekick users over the weekend, I thought while that’s horrible for all those Sidekick users who were affected, it’s great news for all of us who are working on web apps/mobile web.
Here’s the summation: the Sidekick does no desktop backup like the iPhone and BlackBerry, it only backs up to a web service (the “cloud”) and all those servers reside at Microsoft. Microsoft screwed up and lost all that server data and then, when devices connected to the server, it wiped the device clean.
Now this has created an avalanche of controversy about web apps and people are starting to ask whether web apps can be trusted. After all, this makes it possible for one company to screw everyone.
And this, I think, is perfect. Controversy! For those of us creating web apps, we need some controversy because it means web apps have gone mainstream!
With every generation of the web, we’ve had controversy. In the early days of the web it was fear of entering a credit card on the web. Copious amounts of film and paper were wasted discussing this lunacy. (That’s right: you’ll hand your card to a stranger in a restaurant who walks into a back room with it, who enters it into a machine that transmits the data across a telephone line to the… wait for it… servers of some bank.)
Then came Web 2.0 and the fear-mongering of online predators and putting your drunken pictures in plain view of your boss received copious amounts of press, except this time it was digital so all we wasted was electricity.
I’ve been feeling like the mobile web and web apps were left out. Where was the controversy? Finally it’s happened!
For the record, this is just more fear mongering and like all fear mongering, it has a hint of truth to it. The truth is that the risk of trusting someone else with your data means you are at their mercy. The problem is this has always been the problem! How many times has Word ate my documents? Photoshop crashed half way through editing? My PalmPilot screwed something up and wiped contacts off my device? Had a hard drive crash? Too often to count!
So has web apps/mobile web hit the mainstream? Not yet — this controversy isn’t loud enough. But we are getting closer. And that’s a good thing for everyone.