A million monkeys banging on a typewriter will inevitably string a few phrases together, two of those monkeys will likely type the same phrase as each other. It’s probability.
Sometimes people (groups, companies) just come up with similar ideas.
So I understand that Microsoft’s development team probably weren’t even aware of the location based crisis reporting tool, Ushahidi, and to innovate in the social networking space, they went to the next logical step…location based micro-messaging. If anything, they probably heard about the general idea at a press conference (or in a TED Video or something, maybe this little news network called Al Jeezera) and they decided they (being one of the world’s largest software companies) could reinvent the wheel and make it better with Vine. Nothing wrong with that.
The really disappointing thing is that Microsoft, true to form, want to ‘own’ such a system. The difference between Microsoft Vine and Ushahidi is that with the former you have to wait for some execs in Redmond to crunch some numbers and authorize updates or new features. With Ushahidi, you’ve got a large amount Kenyan developers as well as other guys from around the world contributing to an open source platform that no one really owns, the company Ushahidi just supports and configures installations. The whole point of the software is to be decentralized so that it can be deployed beyond the scope of a few individuals or one company.
Why is that so interesting? Because I don’t quite get the motive. Is it some market potential? How in the world would Microsoft expect to begin to monetize such a service? It’s like trying to monetize 911 or the EBS. Maybe next they’ll make proprietary Air Raids next. Microsoft Air Raid 2009 Live Professional Service Pack 1.
Crisis reporting is something that wants to be free. It needs to be free, community owned, a service that just exists. No one should know where it comes from, it’s just there. I don’t really see what Microsoft locking down such a system ads to the company or the product. In this way, Jason Paczkowski of All Things D is right, Vine is the Zune of Social Networks, all the things that would make such a service cool (even useful) have been left out.
My point is, Microsoft can’t have it both ways. If they want to offer something like this to the world, the real utility is in the openness. I don’t need to pay a premium to know my mother’s house is on fire in Atlanta, Ga, I don’t want to see contextual ads about pacemakers when my grandma reports she’s having a heart attack.
Bottom-line, if they don’t plan to monetize it, then there’s no need for it to be proprietary. They’d offer the world much more if it wasn’t.