I love Web 2.0 as much as anyone. I love the creative revolution that has come with empowering a whole class of web developers to create applications that were once thought impossible. But while those applications living in the browser is the start of something great, it's not there yet. In fact, with data today from NDP, it's not even close.
NDP did a survey about awareness and usage of the web based office in the US. The numbers show just how far we have to go. Part of this is the brand power of Word and the mindshare that Microsoft has. But the survey is also indicative of how much inertia there is in traditional software. 73.2% of respondents had never even heard of web based office apps. 0.3% are regular users of only online applications. Despite the apparent productivity gains and a glowing piece from the New York Times today. But it's even worse. 20.8% of people had heard of online office applications but weren't using them. That means a whopping 94% of people are still using desktop applications for office.
The study showed that there are some very popular Software as a Service models out there. It gave .Mac and online taxes as examples of new software working very well. In browser software is going to play a huge part in the future but it isn't here yet. That's a big reason why I think Adobe AIR is such a great idea. It captures all of that excitement in web development and gives those people a way to deploy desktop applications that most people are used to. It's the web/desktop hybrid approach that provides the most consistent user experience for the consumer. It's also much easier to help them transition to the browser. What do you guys think?