There's an open thread going on over at Web Worker Daily that asks, do Rich Internet Applications matter to you. Anne Zelenka has some commentary about what she thinks of RIAs and makes the point I see a lot, that things like Gmail, and del.icio.us offer "more-than-acceptable" interfaces with a lot of power. For the most part the comments consist of people saying they don't care about RIAs, they just want applications that perform the tasks needed. There's also a bit of a groundswell for offline connectivity which is important to note.
But here's the thing. I don't want to take your productivity away. My idea of a good Rich Internet Application isn't one that is all glitter and no substance. RIAs can be delivered inside the browser or they can be deployed on the desktop. The idea of putting a desktop like experience in the browser with RIAs is so that we can make them more powerful *and* easier to use. Make them sticky for the users and, god forbid, fun to use while being productive.
When Super Mario Brothers came out in 1985, we were all pretty blown away by the graphics and the experience. Those 8 little bits of plumber were really, really cool and no one was complaining about the graphics or the game. But did we stop there? Did we decide that Mario was good enough as a pixelated block man? No, and thank goodness. Mario got our juices flowing and thinking about how much further we could take this. Now we have games like Gears of War that look absolutely spectacular. We have games like Guitar Hero that are a blast to play. Why can't our applications be like that? Why can't we be productive and enjoy a great experience?
It's not a zero sum game, I promise.