And service outages aren't all that customers have to fear. As online services consolidate ever more uniquely identifying user data, privacy concerns are at an all-time high. In 2007, Facebook came under fire for invasive practices related to its Beacon online advertising system, and a new lawsuit alleges that the social network takes advantage of user data in ways that go far beyond what casual subscribers might imagine. If your third-party application relies on data provided by Facebook, someday you might find yourself called to account. If you can think of a way to limit your exposure in that scenario, let me know.
Is cloud computing mature enough for a developer ecosystem?
Given the challenges inherent in delivering large-scale online apps and the capital investment necessary to make them work, how many companies truly have the wherewithal to offer a Web-based developer platform that's as robust as a traditional OS? Google has invested billions in its online infrastructure, but that hasn't saved it from occasional serious outages. Banks have billions of dollars at stake, but not even they have been immune to phishing attacks and identity theft.
For some, the potential market created by a service as massively popular as Twitter is reason enough to get on board, whatever the risks. But unless you're prepared to deal with all the painful realities of this nascent software market, you'd be well advised not to put all your eggs in one basket. Today's consumers of online services are a fickle bunch, and if the fallout from the Twitter outages is any indication, the transition from a desktop software market to a fully online one might take a lot longer than some will have you believe.