Google+ lead Vic Gundotra has defended his decision to postpone an API for the social network, sneaking in a quick slap at Facebook by saying Google is “actually respectful of developers who build on our platform.” The delay in releasing a full Google+ API for third-party coders has prompted anger from some – Gundotra says that he was booed by the audience at SXSW when he said it was not ready – but the Senior VP argues that delivering one half-baked and “then later changing the rules of the game” isn’t in anybody’s best interests, citing recent criticisms of Facebook.
Those complaints, made in an open letter to Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg by developer Dalton Caldwell, followed a meeting in which he was told that a product he was developing based on the social network would, rather than being warmly welcomed as previously indicated, instead be considered treading on Facebook’s toes thanks to the new App Center. Caldwell claims he was pressured to sell his work to Facebook or risk seeing it crushed by Facebook’s own system:
“The meeting took an odd turn when the individuals in the room explained that the product I was building was competitive with your recently-announced Facebook App Center product. Your executives explained to me that they would hate to have to compete with the “interesting product” I had built, and that since I am a “nice guy with a good reputation” that they wanted to acquire my company to help build App Center … Your team doesn’t seem to understand that being “good negotiators” vs implying that you will destroy someone’s business built on your “open platform” are not the same thing” Dalton Caldwell
That situation, Gundotra writes – on Google+, of course – is what Google hopes to avoid. “I’m not interested in screwing over developers” he said, “when we open an API, we want developers to feel confident that the innovations they build are going to be long lasting. Releasing an API, and then later changing the rules of the game isn’t fun for anyone, especially developers who’ve spent their life’s energies building on the platform.”
Currently, only select partners have access to Google+ data. The company announced a deal with Flipboard in recent months, that allows users of the news-browsing app to log into their Google+ account and see shared content from there in their stream. Google has also been improving integration between the social site and its own products, including YouTube and Gmail, with the promise of broader availability when it’s ready and not before.
“So I’m sorry that we haven’t released a wide open write API for those of you who want one. We’re being careful because we want to be different. You know, actually respectful of developers who build on our platform. It’s novel. I know” Vic Gundotra, Google