The Future of Web Apps

Mike Arrington, of Techcrunch fame, spoke at The Future of Web Apps Summit and gave a low down of who, as he saw it, the winners and losers throughout the year were. It makes for a very interesting read. His opinion, and who am I to doubt him, suggests that the obvious winners have been the Social Networks…I guess anyone could have come up with that pearl of wisdom. It’s what he went on to say that interested me the most. He said he believes that the social networking market is now completely saturated and I’m right behind him! He went on to say that for that matter so are photo uploading, video uploading, podcasting, blogging and feed readers – anything you’ve heard nothing else about for the last 12 months basically!

What he concluded with however, was the still untapped potential in a number of other areas, primarily platform and desktop based. Other areas he mentioned were office efficiency, cloud storage, identity, developer tools, market destruction (such as 1-800-FREE411) and enterprise. He tied into his belief in these areas with mention of Adobe’s Apollo platform , and having seen it running in the flesh, I’m inclined to agree.

The opportunities that Apollo offers have not gone unnoticed on me and I’m incredibly excited about what the future holds in this area. I only picked up on this article this morning, but based on what Mike said, I’m very interested in formulating a list of necessary criteria in order to create a platform which ties in with the work that has already gone on – e.g. Flickr, mySpace, deli.cio.us, writerly etc. in order for people to be able to seamlessly go from one application to another, utilizing additional features such as universal log-in, and desktop communication which haven’t been possible from inside the browser.

In order to understand some of the problems a product like Apollo potentially alleviates, it’s important to think about what the current problem is. Online applications & Web 2.0 services haven’t been able to release themselves from the constraint of the browser for a number of reasons – the most important and obvious ones being privacy and security. Were you to have a solution which sits on your desktop like any other normal application, then you can begin to offer a solution to currently what we have which is a number of disperate services all assuming that theirs in going to win through. The honest fact of the matter is that whilst there are always going to be market leaders such as YouTube, there are going to be a multitude of other competitiors who just didn’t quite find themselves in the right place at the right time.

Why is it, for example, that mySpace is more popular than it’s other competitors such as Facebook? It’s certainly not for the beautiful design or crafted user experience. Whilst people concentrate on the why, I’m going to concentrate on improving the how. If you have a solution which offers user’s a better experience by enabling those solutions to be housed under one roof, you’re enable a much more seamless experience to the user. Developers can concentrate on what they’re good at, namely functionality, whilst designers can ensure it’s as effortless as possible to share information on your desktop with information online, thereby integrating what currently takes some time into something that’s as easy as dragging a file into a new window.


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September 2006
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