That was the first thought that crossed my mind as I looked atGoogle AppEngine. Yeah, there are differences - Ning 1.0 was PHP, AppEngine is Python. You hosted your apps in myapp.ning.com vs myapp.appspot.com. But here is the most important difference of all: Ning was too early, and it was, well, Ning, as opposed to Google. Ning smartly realized that early too, so Ning 2.0 moved to a new sexy model of "Build Your Own Social Network", but I believe the heart of their Ning 1.0 system is still in there, carefully tucked away so as not to scare the average social networker with query languages and such.
Here is my reaction to AppEngine: I asked our engineers to brush up on their Python. Fortunately, we have experience in it - a lot of our test automation scripts are Python based. I think AppEngine is going to be monstrously successful. And we at Zoho are going to embrace it whereever we can, just as we are already playing with Amazon AWS.
Fundamentally, we are a software company. We don't compete against Google because of our infrastructure advantage over them, that's for sure. Initiatives like Amazon AWS and Google AppEngine let us be a software company again - and that is a good thing! So here we come, Python ... and to Ning, here is someone who remembered your original innovation. Thank you!