Is Google taking over the world? Maybe. At the very least it seems like internet companies now fall into two categories: 1) Companies wanting to sell to Google and 2) Companies terrified of Google. In some cases it's probably both. But as the bloggers crawl all over themselves to give their take on the news of Google Spreadsheets (look ma, I'm on Techmeme!), the thing I'm most concerned with is how does this affect people developing Rich Internet Applications. And from where I'm sitting, this is awesome for RIAs and RIA developers.
The Universal Desktop
The technology and business implications of the next generation of software, rich Internet applications.
Could the move by Adobe to force Office 2007 to exclude the export to PDF feature be aimed at making sure Apollo and its Rich Internet Application strategy are intact? This move will require Vista users to download more Adobe software, giving them a better chance of penetrating Vista.
WPF and Flash are each powerful technologies that will offer developers and designers a way to build the next generation of software. There are strengths and weaknesses for both, and the companies behind the two, Microsoft and Adobe, have very different visions for the future of the Rich Internet Application.
There is a very good article by Gabor Cselle about what's missing in Web 2.0. One of the things he draws out is the inability to take these Web 2.0 applications offline. While someday we'll see the world covered with internet access, right now, this is a very big deal for both business users and home users. It's also where Rich Internet technologies like Flash and WPF are going to shine and really differentiate themselves from other web solutions.
Ajax is powerful because it is simple. Applications are starting to run up against problems that come with developing a rich application within the browser. The developers of these applications are going to need to move beyond the browser and embrace the next generation of Rich Internet Application technologies.
The .mobi initiative may seem like a good way to get more people using the web with their cell phones, but ultimately it is going to fall short. RIAs give mobile users an unprecedented level of control over how they view content. It also gives content providers, advertisers and marketers a rich platform with which to hook users.
Cooqy is the kind of Rich Internet Application that is going to bring mainstream users. Using Flash written in Open Laszlo, it enhances the eBay experience while adding valuable features. It's a fun way to buy and sell, and it's a great example of a well done RIA.
With Microsoft uncharacteristically building a cross platform solution, the RIA space is going to see an influx of competition. That competition is going to be great for developers, and I think Adobe will benefit as well.
The operating system is becoming irrelevant as Rich Internet Applications become more popular and companies work to deliver their solutions across a variety of platforms. Three companies which once had little in common now find themselves shaping the future of application development.
The mobile market could be a major entry point to Rich Internet Applications and end up being the medium that show mainstream users how beneficial RIAs can be. As users look to their phones to perform more complicated tasks, the Rich Internet will help them blend their workflow between computer and device.