Issues with the cloud and SaaS

  1. Individuals do not handle relationships as well as companies. It’s a source of “subscription fatigue”; you end up having to mentally keep track of all the third parties you may or may not owe money to, that may or may not do something that impacts your life down the line. Companies have dedicated people and processes for handling this, most individuals do not.

  2. Individuals do not necessarily want all these relationships. If I buy a toaster, I don’t want any relationship with its maker - for the same reason that when I buy bread from a grocery store, I don’t want to enter into relationship with the seller, or the baker, or the farmer that provided the flour.

  3. Power imbalance in relationships matter. Individuals are almost always irrelevant to the service provider, so for a regular person it’s better to not have any relationship at all. For companies, it depends. A corporation like Microsoft or Google can be rather certain that Salesforce isn’t going to pull a fast one over them, due to relative sizes and the amount of money changing hands. Smaller companies fall somewhere on the spectrum between individuals and mega corporations.

  4. The above colors risk calculation. If my relationship with the service provider is closer to that of peers, I can feel safer about depositing data with them or making myself dependent on their service, because they’re incentivized to provide a good service to me, and I can hurt them if they don’t (say, by switching to a competitor). Companies do the same calculus. A small studio is best to think twice about depending on third-party services for anything that may outlive such services. A large company can derisk the relationship through a contract.

  5. Part of the objection there is against SaaS is that consumer-oriented SaaS (including “stuff as a service”, aka. turning products into services) tends to be exploitative by design. You wouldn’t consider a friend a person that abuses you mentally or tries to cheat you out of your money, so why enter into a relationship with a company that tries the same? Except when you have no other choice, which is why everything becoming a service is a worrying trend.

Desiging offline first

Local apps with export features and backup

“You own your data”.

Suppose want to print something or get two machines to interact. Any remote third party you bring into this interaction is going to increase latency, reduce bandwidth, increase the probability of failure, etc.

That is why one wants a local first approach for mission-critical software. You don’t want your factory to stop because the link to the cloud is down.

Local first talks

Local first talks