I found it interesting that two prominent software companies (if you can call a GDS a software company) one within the travel industry, Sabre, the other the poster child for social computing, Myspace, have both recently come out with rules (or lack of) regarding 3rd party software developers that hook into their systems. In the case of Sabre, there has been a lot recent press around the new fees Sabre is now charging 3rd party applications such as Booking Builder. For Myspace the issue is one of widgets used by third parts to embed content inside their site. The most common example is Youtube whose growth as a company’s was significantly driven by MySpace.
In a recent blog entry by Josh Kopelman, Managing Director of First Round Capital (which was also carried on the Always On Network), Josh compared MySpace’s lack of a clear “widget road map” to that of Prodigy. “This brings back memories from the early days of the Internet, when companies like Prodigy and AOL were the only online services in town. Despite the launch of the web browser (which unleashed the creation of millions of web sites), AOL and Prodigy initially focused on maintaining their proprietary online environment and controlling everything on their site.” “Myspace does not have a formal development program and has blocked several widgets , (and) built their own widgets to compete in certain areas.” In contrast, Facebook, Myspace’s chief competitor has announced a new development platform encouraging 3rd party applications that work with their site.
Though I recognize that contrasting Sabre’s actions to that of Myspace is a bit of an apples and oranges comparison, but the end result is similar with each company trying to protect what they perceive as their proprietary competitive advantage. Like Myspace, Sabre is blocking some third party development , while promoting their own alternative tools (based on Agentware). Hopefully one of the other GDS (Galileo, Amadeus are you listening?) will learn from the Myspace / Facebook battle and take an opposite stance from Sabre, promoting and supporting 3rd party development tools.