Webtop meets desktop: Are we there yet?

Adobe on Monday rolled out its AIR and Flex 3 platforms and the future of rich Internet applications will be discussed ad nauseum. We'll be told that the Webtop and desktop will merge in wonderful ways.

Adobe on Monday rolled out its AIR and Flex 3 platforms and the future of rich Internet applications will be discussed ad nauseum. We'll be told that the Webtop and desktop will merge in wonderful ways. We'll be told about all the neat eye candy that's being created. We'll be told hybrid applications, which use the computing cloud and sync with your desktop, are the future. But are we anywhere near this fabled Webtop meets desktop utopia?

Without a doubt the future of rich Internet applications (RIAs) is bright and there are a few enterprise business cases to be made. But even though developments like AIR and Flex 3 (Techmeme, Adobe statement)--not to mention technologies from Mozilla, Microsoft, Google and Sun Microsystems--are notable I haven't had that "A ha!" moment where a hybrid application is a must have.

And that's the rub with these hybrid applications. On paper the concept of a hybrid application looks great. In reality, I just go about my business with my either connected or desktop applications. Every once in a while I wish my desktop and connected apps were synched, but it's far from a burning desire.

The big question is what's going to turn on that light bulb over my head. What's going to be the killer hybrid application?

Adobe's AIR showcase is neat. AOL, eBay, Nasdaq and The New York Times have some swell hybrid applications. But aside from the Nasdaq app--which allows you to replay market activity--there's little that has me truly interested. And the Nasdaq registration was a big enough of a hurdle for me to forgo an instant download of its AIR application.

I'm sure there will be some point where RIAs give me that big must have moment, but for now I'm left to ask if we're there yet.

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