Gina Bianchini, the CEO of 24hourLaundry adriotly riposted the post I
made a few days ago, building on Michael Arrington’s “Ning — RIP”
post. I thought I would pull her comments out, if only to get them into
the RSS feed:
[from comment on /Message: Michael Arrington on Ning — RIP?]
Thanks for joining the conversation. I just want to address the inaccurancies in Michael’s post that you’re reiterating here.
Ning is not a closed world. Ning is an online platform for effortlessly creating social web apps for free. Without any coding experience, you can take any of the thousands of active social web applications on Ning today and make them your own in a few easy clicks. You can’t do this anywhere else on the Internet today.
As a developer who does know how to code, there is no easier place to create and run your own web app, social or otherwise, as there are no downloads required, no databases to manage, and no sysadmin headaches. 95% of what you’d have to do to build a web app is already done.
You can run your own ads, map your own domain, and protect your source code if you’d like. These are new services we rolled out in December that you can see if you are a signed in user. We’ll be making them more obvious to the wider public in the coming weeks.
We support external web services from Google Maps (e.g., restaurant reviews with maps, review anything with maps, and Craiglist-style Marketplace with maps), Amazon (e.g., bookshelf and dvd tracker), Yahoo Maps, Flickr, Yahoo, and Gmail. Moreover, because we are an open platform, you can also upload existing PHP modules for other web services, like eBay or Technorati, into any web app on Ning.
As for branding, we are constantly working to improve our service and sometimes err on the side of letting it speak for itself. To this end, we’ve been quietly working on:
1. A major redesign of the entire service to make it friendlier and what we offer more obvious
2. Features to enable non-coders to customize social apps and build new social apps from scratch using components
3. Performance improvements to make Ning even faster and more scalable
4. Support for Ruby and other languages
We haven’t been as obvious with some of this stuff as we should be and perhaps you have to sign in to your account to see a lot of these features, but they are all there. We’ve just posted this morning a summary of our new features at our blog: http://blog.ning.com and we’ll continue to engage in active conversations with our users and anyone else who is interested in what we offer.
Thanks again, Stowe. We appreciate the attention.
I’m going to take Gina’s thanks at face value, because I haved spoken with her, and she’s a very forthright person.
I am here reproducing the full post at Ning that Gina referred to:
Some of What’s Been Happening Around Here: New Features on Ning
There’ve been several new features and improvements we’ve been
gradually releasing over the past month, and we haven’t detailed
exactly what they are. We’ve had a little criticism about that recently, so it’s time to fix that:
- All Ning Users can Create Apps. Once you’ve registered for your free Ning account, you can jump straight in to cloning, coding and creating.
- Run your own Google or Yahoo Ads for Free. You can
now run your own ads from Google or Yahoo on the social web apps you’ve
created on Ning. When you sign in, follow the “Add Premium Services”
link on any of your apps. It’s free through March.
- Map your Domain Name and Hide Your Source Code. You
can now map your domain names over your social web apps on Ning and
protect their source code. Just follow the “Add Premium Services” link
on any of your apps.
- Performance Improvements. We’ve made substantial
performance improvements to our little service which you’ll notice as
both an app creator and user. Take it for a spin!
- New Ning Sidebar. In the first of several style
upgrades that we have in the pipeline, the Ning Sidebar takes up less
vertical space while providing more information.
- Backup & Restore. These two new functions make
tinkering with your app risk-free. Automated backups happen every
half-hour while you’re editing your files, whether you’re doing it
through the web interface or SFTP. You can also take permanent backups
when you’re satisfied. Rolling back and forth between versions only
takes a couple of clicks, and the Compare feature helps you keep track of exactly what’s changed.
- Merge & Reclone. You now have two choices for catching up when a Ning app is improved: Merge
intelligently combines the new code from the parent with your own
changes, so you can add new features while keeping your configuration
and styling. If you want to throw away the changes you’ve made and go
for the new version of the parent, choose Reclone. Both methods leave your app’s content objects where they are. Facelifts have never been so painless.
These are just a selection of some of the things we’ve released and
are working on. There’s plenty more right around the corner. If you
notice any breakages or problems with the above, or have suggestions
for what you’d like to see next, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.
Sounds like Gina & Co are trying to regain their momentum, and it sounds good.
My question is really about the momentum of the entire space, though. Can a single player — even one with visionary leadership and top-notch technology — actually approximate the innovation and agility of an entire ecosystem, especially at a time of exploding web app development? I am certainly not saying that the steps being taken by Ning are the wrong ones, but it just may not be a time when a single company can corner the market, and become the foundation for web app development. Remember Microsoft and .Net?