This morning I've been reading various posts about the difficulty ahead for the Pointer Events spec, namely, Apple's (and by extension Google's) unwillingness to implement it. I'd encourage you to read both pieces, and whatever else gets written on this in the coming days.
I want to comment not on the spec as such, but on the process on display here, and the effect it has on the growth and development of the web. There was a time when the web's course was plotted by a single vendor (at the time, Microsoft), and decisions about what was and wasn't headed for the web got made by employees of that corporation. This story is so often retold that I won't pretend you need to read it again.
And yet here we are in 2015, where the web on mobile, and therefore the web in general, is effectively in the control of one vendor; a vendor who, despite its unmatched leadership and excellence in creating beautiful hardware, has shown none of the same abilities in its stewardship and development of the web.
If the only way to improve and innovate the web is to become an employee of Apple Inc., the web is in real danger.
I think that the larger web development community has become lax in its care for the platform on which it relies. While I agree with the trend toward writing JS to supplement and extend the browser, I think that it also tends to lull developers into thinking that their job is done. We can't simply write code on the platform, and neglect writing code for the platform. To ignore the latter, to neglect the very foundations of our work, is to set ourselves up for a time when everything collapses into the sand.
We need more of our developer talent and resources going into the web platform. We need more of our web developers to drop down a level in the stack and put their attention on the platform. We need more people in our community with the skills and resources to design, implement, and test new specs. We need to ensure that the web isn't something we simply use, but something we are active in maintaining and building.
Many web developers that I talk to don't think about the issues of the "web as platform" as being their problem. "If only Vendor X would fix their bugs or implement Spec Y--we'll have to wait and see." There is too often a view that the web is the problem of a small number of vendors, and that we're simply powerless to do anything other than complain.
In actual fact there is a lot that one can do even without the blessing or permission of the browser vendors. Because so much of the web is still open, and the code freely available, we can and should be experimenting and innovating as much as possible. While there's no guarantee that code you write will be landed and shipped, there is still a great deal of value in writing patches instead of just angry tweets: it is necessary to change peoples' minds about what the web is and what it can do, and there is no better way that with working code.
I would encourage the millions of web developers who are putting time into technologies and products on top of the web to also consider investing some time in the web itself. Write a patch, make some builds, post them somewhere, and blog about the results. Let data be the lever you use to shift the conversation. People will tell you that something isn't possible, or that one spec is better than another. Nothing will do more to convince people than a working build that proves the opposite.
There's no question that working on the web platform is harder than writing things for the web. The code is bigger, older, more complicated, and requires different tooling and knowledge. However, it's not impossible. I've been doing it for years with undergraduate students at Seneca, and if 3rd and 4th years can tackle it, so too can the millions of web developers who are betting their careers and companies on the web.
Having lived through and participated in every stage of the web's development, it's frustrating to see that we're repeating mistakes of the past, and allowing large vendors to control too great a stake of the web. The web is too important for that, and it needs the attention and care of a global community. There's something you can do, something I can do, and we need to get busy doing it.