BIJAN SABET

ABOUT | ARCHIVE | TWITTER | INSTAGRAM

Getting Sherlocked

Many years ago a company called Karelia developed a cool desktop app for the Mac called Watson. 

Wikipedia describes the story of Karelia quite well:

The Karelia logo was inspired by events that occurred shortly after Dan Wood created Watson. The application was designed as a complement to Apple’s existing Sherlock 2 application, providing users various plug-ins to view specific internet content. Watson was released in November 2001, and the popularity of the program grew quickly.

Wood was later invited to a meeting at Apple, in which he was shown a demo of Sherlock 3, which incorporated the same look and nearly all of the modules featured in Watson. After voicing his displeasure to Apple Developer Relations, Wood received a phone call from Steve Jobs, during which Jobs indicated that he saw Karelia as the handcar in the way of the steam train that owns the tracks (a very similar experience to that of Cabel Sasser of Panic Software). Despite this setback, Karelia Software has continued to create popular Mac software and has since incorporated the train tracks and handcar into their logo.

The story became known to developers as “Getting Sherlocked”. Third parties getting trounced by the big platform. 

Building interesting desktop apps for MacOS or Windows always came with the getting sherlocked risk. 

But with the web, developers have learned to build on top of each other. Consider Amazon Web Services, or Twilio, or Mongo.

Yet the desire for the bigco to try and crush the little co seems to be a constant.

Recently, Google launched Google Drive. It’s clear they don’t want Dropbox to be the category leader in file sharing and sync. Even though Dropbox on Android is superior to Dropbox on iOS. 

Google basically bolted Google Drive on to their existing popular Google Docs. Here is the big honking Google Drive promotion in my Google Docs dashboard.

If I’m Dropbox, I’m not loving this. 

But here’s the thing. Dropbox is still a much better product in my opinion. It just works. And their iOS app is better than Google Drive’s iOS app. 

This morning I got up quite early and read through 4 pitch decks from entrepreneurs. All of them contained a Dropbox link. None of them had a Google Drive link. 

As I mentioned in this twitter thread, I’m a big fan of Google in general. They have built extraordinary products and have made even more extraordinary acquisitions with Android and YouTube. That’s the Google I love.

I don’t love when a big company bolts on an app to an existing product line specifically to nuke a competitor. That’s what Google Drive feels like to me. 

And for that reason I’m a loyal, happily paying Dropbox user.