The whole concept of ‘OPEN’ is a nice one.
For example, American Express $AXP has the nerve to use ‘OPEN’ in their latest bullshit ‘TARP” backed ad campaign to get new customers for the ones they pissed off and kicked out. They are as ‘OPEN’ when it comes to selling your data and ‘Closed’ when you need them.
Twitter $TWIT is pretty damn open, but so is the backing from their VC’s. Twitter is a miracle and it is hard to start miracles. They just happen.
You can brag about ‘OPEN’ when you have CUSTOMERS. Until than you have USERS. USERS are generally very difficult to get and than expensive to keep. As the cloud expands, look for this to equation to get harder and more expensive, not easier and cheaper which everyone thinks.
Customers are what you want.
Steve Jobs can fart around at the edge of the ‘Social Web’ because he has customers. Apple has the luxury to ease into social. Steve can tease his customers with Social because for the most part, they don’t care. People have declared their social lives for now. Steve does not want to overpay for the current leaders or even help them. He can afford to do that.
The perception of ‘OPEN’ when you have CUSTOMERS is all that matters.
My favorite investment to date with an exit was GolfNow.com. I loved it because we had customers. At board meetings I would rant about us not turning customers into hard core fanatics around everything golf. I always lost. We had an amazing exit to Comcast in 2007 so it is hard to project the ‘coulda wouldas’.
To write off Steve Jobs and $aapl with their very uninteresting first launch of PING would be dangerous. They have the customers. They have my credit card info and my kids have my passowrd to itunes.