Who Makes Money off of Rich Internet Applications?

Summary:One of the things I continue to struggle with is who will benefit most, financially, from Rich Internet Applications. On the one hand, the barrier to entry is almost non-existant, so that any person in their basement can build very functional applications and release them to the world. On the other hand, leveraging RIAs in the enterprise provides a lot of cost saving as well as a next generation solution that will streamline business processes.

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One of the things I continue to struggle with is who will benefit most, financially, from Rich Internet Applications. On the one hand, the barrier to entry is almost non-existant, so that any person in their basement can build very functional applications and release them to the world. What RIAs bring is the deskop user experience within a web application, which as I've mentioned many times, has the potential to draw in people who aren't using web applications yet because they don't like how it feels. With cross-platform solutions like Flash, the potential audience is anyone with an internet connection - a significant chunk of people.

On the other hand, leveraging RIAs in the enterprise provides a lot of cost saving as well as a next generation solution that will streamline business processes (how's that for biz-speak?). RIAs provide the robustness of desktop applications in an environment that is easily upgraded and maintained, can be deployed anywhere, and is centralized. All of these are significant advantages to businesses willing to adopt the RIA mentality. What makes the enterprise space interesting is that for the most part, the cross-platform nature of RIAs is less important. While RIAs will need to be device-enabled for our increaslingly blackberryized world, the incentive to make sure that the app can run on both a Mac and a PC doesn't exist as much in the enterprise.

So who benefits the most? In the end, I think it's actually the enterprise that has the biggest payoff from switching to Rich Internet Applications. The average users, and the small developers will push the web to new places, but it won't compare to the impact that enterprises have on RIAs. The enterprise-level development shops will be the ones creating complex, elegant solutions. It may be difficult to imagine, because the last thing most people probably associate with corporate america is a good user experience, but the software revolution is pushing it to the forefront. The biggest software company in the world is pushing it, and eventually the message will get through to the managers and C-levels. Experience will take on new importance, and enterprise developers will rise to the challenge. Experience will matter in the workplace, and it will show in the RIAs that are deployed.

Small shop developers are still very important to the web, and especially RIAs. They have the freedom to experiment and expand on what we currently know about RIAs. Web 2.0 is an extension of that kind of thinking, and it's been extremely valuable. But while regular users will gain from the better experience, businesses accross the world will be able to cut costs and become more nimble through the use of RIAs. By centralizing and simplifying their application deployment, they gain a ton of flexibilty. Once the CIOs get it, there will be a flood of companies jumping on the bandwagon.

Topics: Apps

About

Ryan Stewart holds an economics degree from the University of Pennsylvania and is now a Rich Internet Application developer and industry analyst. After graduating from Penn, he spent two years developing applications for the Wharton School and pushing the idea of the web as a platform for learning. Ryan now lives in Seattle with his wife... Full Bio

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