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Ios, Android, WP7 - who cares? (jacquesmattheij.com)
91 points by RiderOfGiraffes 2310 days ago | hide | past | web | 69 comments | favorite

As a question of fact, has the mainstream switched from apps to webapps on the desktop? e.g. for spreadsheets, word processors, text editors, photoshop, compilers. If not, then the argument becomes "I think B will happen because I think A will happen".

One argument is that the main barrier to webapps is performance, and as soon as hardware gets fast enough, webapps will beat desktop apps. Firstly, there's a question of whether the hardware can ever be "fast enough" and this depends on the specific applications. An illustration is between Java and C. Java's JVM was slower but portable (similar benefits as webapps, for similar reasons). Today, Java is massively popular - but C is also still massively popular, and I would argue that one reason for this is that performance is still important for some applications. Perhaps there will be a similar proportion for webapps.

Secondly, as performance improves, user preferences may switch to some factor other than webapps first. Smart phones are a prime example: instead of people staying on their desktop and switching from apps to to webapps, they have switched from desktop apps to mobile apps. That excess performance is being spent on mobility rather than the web; people preferred the benefits of a small, portable form-factor over the benefits of the web. It may be that when smartphones become powerful enough (dual 1GHz cpus this year), an even smaller form factor will appear - making high performance software a premium once again.

Apart from performance, there are network barriers to webapps: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fallacies_of_Distributed_Comput...

   1. The network is reliable.
   2. Latency is zero.
   3. Bandwidth is infinite.
   4. The network is secure.
   5. Topology doesn't change.
   6. There is one administrator.
   7. Transport cost is zero.
   8. The network is homogeneous.
All this will improve, but will it improve enough? Even if it does eventually, in the long run, we're all dead.

The hardware isn't only getting faster, it's also getting more innovative. Here's a really important point: The new capabilities of the hardware (like accelerometers, for example) will always come to native apps first. Color couldn't be a webapp. There's natural urge from develops to want the full potential of a device. Meanwhile, no device maker is going to wait for their new feature to become a web standard before they ship it. You just can't do hardware innovation through the browser, because the whole point of the browser is to abstract the hardware away into a common generic, platform.

you dont wait for things to become web standards before shipping, you make them standards by shipping them

So true. Which is a both a great thing and a bad thing as Doug Crockford pointed out here - http://www.infoq.com/interviews/doug-crockford-html5

Essentially, he's saying that innovation by browser vendors drives innovation in general to a great degree. However, it hampers the ability of standards to do the work in some areas which need standards (such as Security).

I'd expect it to be the same with app side of things, especially with so many vendors trying to get their slice of the pie.

eg: HP's WebOS is supposedly a sort of hybrid web-native combo, RIM now has QNX, Qualcomm has Alljoyn for P2P and is pushing some fancy LTE frameworks. And let's not even get into Near-Field Communications (pretty hardware dependent) and the future of mobile payments =p.

How many NEW desktop apps have you installed recently?

We obviously won't see Adobe, Autodesk and some other professional software developers moving their products to web anytime soon, but when we are talking about the new products - web is usually the winner. Look at Chrome and it's pace of innovation, check out the examples from Mozilla Demo Studio, could you imagine that working in all latest major browsers 3 years ago?

Same is true for mobile, I don't see another space for innovation except improving web performance, integration & so on. Maybe you see some other directions where iPhone & Android can go?

How many NEW desktop apps have you installed recently?

I don't install new desktop apps very often because my needs are already solved. I do nearly all my work in:

- Mail.app

- Xcode

- Eclipse

- TeXShop

- Terminal

- Chrome (JIRA, and browsing documents-not-webapps)

I'd prefer a native application for JIRA, but I haven't found a decent one yet.

Same is true for mobile, I don't see another space for innovation except improving web performance, integration & so on. Maybe you see some other directions where iPhone & Android can go?

I expect the iOS and Android platforms to continue to evolve their core libraries, providing significant additional functionality and features for use by mobile applications. Eventually that will slow as the mobile platforms mature.

I'd like to say that I expect the development of higher-level common platforms out of web browsers, but outside of (possibly) WebOS, this seems unlikely.

Compared to the web, iOS and Android have comprehensive platform APIs with consistent widgets and user experiences (iOS more than Android when it comes to consistency), support for multiple programming languages and runtimes, immediate access to platform vendor's APIs (playing video doesn't involve an browser vendors arguing over <video>, etc.

> How many NEW desktop apps have you installed recently?

I install (and uninstall) games pretty regularly. To me these have the potential to be the big differentiator. It will be interesting to see if we end up with fragmentation (think DS vs. PSP vs. iOS) or ports of most major releases as long as each platform has decent market share (Xbox 360 vs. PS3).

It seems that hardware-wise and market share-wise, we're trending towards seeing major releases on at least iOS and Android. What's interesting to me here is that (1) so far it seems like indie developers are playing a larger role on the mobile gaming scene, and they won't necessarily have the resources to do a launch on both platforms until their games become hits, and (2) for whatever reason it seems like the Android gaming market (and app market in general) is very anemic compared to iOS, despite having a large install base. (This is just my subjective opinion based on using an Android phone for the last few months.)

As a side note, I do agree that in general desktop OS choice is less important than it used to be, but I think that it's due more to the democratization of data than it is to the rise of web apps. Getting a Mac file to open on a friend's PC used to be pretty difficult for the average user.

Actually Autodesk has just launched AutoCAD in the cloud. https://www.autocadws.com/

Web Apps do not need to go and fetch from the internet every time you click a link.

There are lots of differenct ways web apps can be built without ever even touching the network

That, and having your data as a single entity you can manipulate and collaborate from any platform is, IMHO, a killer usage.

Fallacies of Distributed Computing has nothing to do with webapps.

I'm surprised this many people upvoted the parent and downvoted me. The Web is about a secure platform for rapid application development and world-wide distribution. It is not about distributed computing. Fallacies of Distributed Computing is about building a scalable server architecture, not developing/distributing client applications. Even if Fallacies of Distributed Computing was relevant, it would be equally applicable to "native" apps as webapps.

Maybe because you gave an opinion without reasons. (I'm the OP; I didn't downvote you.)

Both distributed computing and webapps rely on the network - that's why I think it's relevant. For example, "the network is reliable" is applicable, given outages. I'd be interested in you articulating why each of the 8 specific points are irrelevant to webapps.

> it would be equally applicable to "native" apps as webapps.

I think you're saying that webapps use the network, but desktop apps can too (e.g. ping, telnet, ssh, ftp, netcat, email clients, napster, etc), and so "what's the difference?". I find it an interesting perspective, because it's noting that the web stack is just a stack for network communication. There's nothing magic about it, except that it's broadly implemented (though there's perhaps some special merit in its REST architecture). Bits of the stack are even used locally e.g. HTML help docs; javascript scripting in Acrobat. It's no different from all the other (thousands of?) protocols and standards. I think this perspective, because it's looking impartially from the outside, and not assuming anything special.

Webapps of course don't have to use the network (apart from for delivery), such as a Javascript calculator (or game for that matter). And, with RIA, you can have webapps that have local storage, and theoretically are indistinguishable from desktop apps.

Is this what you mean? Have I articulated your position?

While I agree with you in theory, in practice most webapps do use the network; and most desktop apps don't. You might think this doesn't matter, but I put it to you that apps are not real things - they are merely shadows of the need they meet. Over time, they move closer to meeting that need. Thus, because webapps use the network, the standards, protocols, third-party tools and products, and developer wisdom and training all get better and better at that. While desktop apps take advantage of being local, and get better at that (though, I'd say this is mostly in the past, and I see little improvement these days). All the wrinkles and little problems and recurring deadends get ironed out (and often absorbed into the stack, so later developers are not even aware there ever was a problem). Webapps get network problems ironed out; desktop apps don't. As for RIA, it doesn't seem to have gone anywhere - silverlight is almost non-existent, I've actually never seen a javaFX app in the wild, nor an adobe AIR.

Therefore (assuming you accept my above argument that FoDC is relevant because it deals with the network), FoDC is less applicable to "native" apps than webapps, because webapps usually use the network, and "native" apps usually don't.

I've been speaking of "desktop" apps - I guess it might be different for iOS iPhone/iPad apps. Do they tend to use the network more? I would guess they might, for games' highscores and so on, but even if they use it more than desktop apps, the issue for my argument is that they use it less than webapps. And from playing with an iPad, that seems to be the case. After all, native apps have the advantage of being local, and so it makes sense to play to that strength.

I note that this would have been a much more interesting exchange (and you would have likely avoided downvotes) if you had articulated your position more clearly, instead of me having to do it for you. I hope you don't mind this admonishment, but i you have found this comment of mine at all helpful, I request that you at least attempt to put in as much effort in articulating your response as I have. It would be enjoyable to have an interesting discussion on HN, instead of the pedantic focus on peripheral points that one often sees - and as I said, you have an interesting perspective.

From where I sit, native applications still rule the day. Sure we spend more time in our browsers than anywhere else, but at least for me that was true back when Jacques still has the desktop war raging. IMO there is a good bit of web entrepreneur/HN hive mind selection bias here - I still go to Libre Office when I want to make documents, local dev tools for coding, local media players, local photo editors, etc. Sure, I can do a fair amount of that stuff "in the cloud" to varying degrees of effectiveness, but that doesn't come close to the last nail in the native application coffin. And I know a good number of people who even stick to desktop mail apps.

My point, I guess, is that I don't think the desktop war is dead - in fact there are a lot of decisions that go into how everyone picks their platform still today. So I don't really see that going away in mobile either - if nothing else on many platforms you can't even pick your browser. Also, much like on the desktop choosing one OS vs. another can really affect your security posture. In the coming years security is going to be a much bigger deal to a fast growing segment of the population.

I agree. I think this viewpoint is a little skewed. Web-based applications have definitely not killed the desktop differences.

However, I think there is a much better chance of them killing the mobile differences to a greater extent, since

1) we don't do as many processing-intense things on mobile platforms, like CAD, designing, etc., and

2) those processing-intense applications we actually do use on phones are also becoming available on the web for the large part.

I am actually happy that everyone considers desktop software old dated and dead - less competition for me :)

From a perspective of windows software ISV (yes, shareware which is supposed to be dead) I can say that there are lots of opportunities and companies making some serious money, unlike on the web where everyone expects to get things for free.

Just because everyone expects to get things for free on the web doesn't mean there aren't companies making serious money. They just make their money selling something other than software directly.

Sure, many people use office, media players, photo editors and ide's on the desktop. but most of the new code people write is inside web sites and servers, not inside the desktop. so most developers don't write for the desktop anymore.

I disagree entirely with his main point.

I will still buy a Mac over a Windows machine any day, and I still have friends who will say the same for Windows and Linux. I have a nice list of apps and features I cannot live without on my Mac, and my friends have similar lists for Linux and Windows.

The one thing we can learn from the desktop OS war is that it's far from over, and so I suspect the mobile OS war will rage on for years (decades?) to come as well.

I don't disagree that a web based model is ideal for certain applications, but there are still many applications that leverage client-side machine benefits like storage, computing power, and responsiveness. And that's where the OS makes all the difference.

I'm seriously thinking of doing web work again, but I'm not kidding myself that my future Html5 apps will replace/kill the native ones, because html5 is nowhere near as fast or as well integrated with the platforms.

Instead, I just hope that I can be competitive with (mobile) native apps eventually and that I can deploy on multiple platforms with a reasonable effort.

The article completely ignores the "appstore" distribution channel advantage. This isn't quite the windows/mac application versus web debate of the web 1.0 days. The appstore model significantly lowers the barrier of app consumption found in the old app distribution models, and brings the total distribution "cost" to be at least on-par with web apps, with a couple significant advantages.

Appstores provide near instant consumption, virtually eliminating the distribution inefficiencies of retail purchases. They also solve the payment (and collection) problem. Apple shares the same advantage that Amazon has in online shopping, as they already have my credit card, so purchases are just easier when going through Amazon, and Apple with the AppStore.

The appstore app model also provides an ongoing consumption advantage over web apps, as direct integration with the device provides unique to maintain engagement over the long term. Notification features will keep customers returning to your app. Also, presence on the home screen is like a built-in advertisement for your app. While you can add icons for web pages, its not typically used by most consumers.

I do recognize that developing to HTML5 instead of the specific mobile platforms can save the developer a lot of time, but it doesn't matter. Its all about the customer. Whichever model provides the superior overall consumption experience will win.

Who knows what the future brings, but the argument provided by the author is void of true analysis of the dynamics at play, and uses an imperfect historical comparison as a means to justify his view.

People don't seem to really understand the difference: a web app sits on a server. A native app is on the device. A web app will ALWAYS have a round trip time - the web is not instantaneous. So it will ALWAYS be slower than a locally run app, by its very definition.

Furthermore, a browser imposes buttons and bars on the application that it does not need. In a mobile app, space is at an extreme premium, and the space used up by the browser elements are needed.

If we solve these two problems, by making all web based apps download their logic to the client, and by disappearing the browser entirely, then that's a native app. It's running locally and it's independent of the browser.

If we solve these two problems, by making all web based apps download their logic to the client, and by disappearing the browser entirely, then that's a native app. It's running locally and it's independent of the browser.

I agree with you on this, although the one quibble I can see is that part of the appeal of web apps has been the idea that you (the user) don't have to update them, because that all happens on the server side. This can be solved trivially of course by just having the client side app check it's origin server for updates whenever the user accesses it, but there's a possibility of that that could end up rather messy unless update management was a centralized part of the OS, rather than a free-for-all (Java Updater and Acrobat Updater, I'm looking at you!).

Chrome auto-updates, you never realise it.

Right, Chrome is basically the only program that auto-updates correctly. But in the context of the myriad other programs that try to auto-update and fail miserably, or worse, I think my point stands.

that is not the difference, web apps can run locally fine

1. Cache Manifests 2. Phonegap, Titanium, CouchDB, plain serving from the filesytem (+ a magnitude of other options)

Isn't Titanium really just an interpreter taking Javascript to render native UI? While using Titanium allows you to use your experience in Javascript, and avoid Objective C or Java, in the end you still have an app on the phone.

Yeh Titanium probably want the best example as it goes through a translation layer, the others are very much true though.

I wish HN had a filtering system. I don't know why each of his blog posts makes it all they way to the top — I don't find them that insightful or interesting. I would much rather read about software & hacking.

Or is there a JavaScript solution? Has someone implemented a HN filter?

  > I would much rather read about software & hacking.
Cool - I'd like to read about those things too. Did you upvote the three things on software and hacking that I submitted in the past week or so? Have you submitted any that I could upvote?

  > Or is there a JavaScript solution?
  > Has someone implemented a HN filter?
If you're into software and hacking, perhaps you could provide one for us.

And to more-or-less answer your question, HN was originally "Startup News" and has always had a bent towards startups. It was widened to "Hacker News," but it still retains that bias. Strict hacking isn't hitting the majority audience, it's still heavily slanted towards the startup scene, and things that interest people who do, or want to do, startups.

That's why Jacques' posts are interesting to people - they are the musings and observations of someone who has started and runs several software and web based businesses. Hence they resonate with the majority audience.

But I'd be happy to see and promote anything you post about software and hacking.

Where's your blog?

Agreed, it seems as if Hacker News has become Jacques' RSS Feed

I have a built-in filter that allows me to scroll past links that I don't like.

My boss told me, you can not sell a web application on App Store, that's why we have to hire an iphone programmer to build a client app.

Your boss wasn't far off base. A web application is not a replacement for a native application, even if you bundle it up in a UIWebView and sell it through the app store.

My organization works in a variety of languages/runtimes, from ObjC to C to assembly to the JVM. We do web, mobile, server, and OS development -- whatever is needed.

I was in a meeting recently discussing complex image processing we had implemented in C++ using OpenCV. We considered OpenCV and C++ to be the best tools for the specific job at hand, which is why we chose them over the alternatives.

A life-long Flash developer -- who has a heavy investment in Flash remaining relevant in his organization -- chimed in to tell us that Flash can do the same thing, and there was no reason to use C++. In theory, we could have made Flash do our bidding, but it was the wrong tool for the job, and we quite intentionally didn't use it.

Web developers seem to apply the same logic as this Flash developer to the development of native apps. There's a much shorter description for this:

When all you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail.

I have a few 30 hour weekend projects I could turn into web apps easier than iPhone apps. There is no way anyone would pay 1-2 dollars just to use these apps on the web (among other things). I don't build anything unless it has utility and in this case, the utility is the few hundred these apps could bring in with only a few hours of dev/ui time. In this case an App is the way to go. Obviously, I don't expect to make big money from these apps. But the few hundred I would make just from putting the app on the store and doing some half ass marketing makes it worth developing.

You and your boss have never heard of PhoneGap? Not a cure all by any stretch but you can sell a web-app if you really want to go that route.

You could charge for web apps. And on the plus side, if you do, you don't have to pay anyone 30% off your price.

Don't underestimate the peer pressure to have an app on the AppStore or, to a lesser degree, the Marketplace.

Web apps are like the place the cool high school kids and poseurs avoid

Web apps are like the place the cool high school kids and poseurs avoid

IOW, webapps will (continue to) be making good money 5 years down the line while iOS apps are bagging groceries at the local supermarket? :)

People have been driving for web interface to rule them all for more than 10 years now. It will never happen in our life time. Those asking for web interface are mainly driving from tech management point of view, one development and interface for all devices and platforms. But consumers don't care and that's why the past few years we see the rise of native mobile interfaces. I see a future where native interface continues to rule, where the web is more the backend glues and data that network all together. Web interface might take a back seat when new generations user interface becomes standard. Touch has just become the standard, imagine a future with kinect like or advanced voice interface. Native interface on purpose build interface devices will have the opportunity to progress and advance the way we interface with the net and computer.

While I certainly agree with Jacques that this war of mobile platforms will end with most applications being run off the internet, the reason I still care about iOS/Android/WP7 is that the days of webapp domination over native apps on smartphones is quite a long way off, and till then there is a very viable opportunity to make a decent amount of money off native apps for the various platforms.

"Markets can remain irrational longer than you can remain solvent."

market irrationality is generally due to

1. a large entity throwing money away to achieve some outcome. he will eventually be eaten by arbitrage unless he has arbitrary amounts of capital (state actors)

2. the person stating this not understanding what a rational market means.

It's an analogy, not meant to be taken literally.

you may want to talk to all the people who take the idea quite seriously as a critique of market speed in reaching equilibrium.

It just means that you can have large numbers of participants being wrong and so, by their sheer weight become unmanageable to a smaller entity which however has the correct picture. This is why short-selling is not for the faint of heart. You need to know not just that the market is wrong, but when it will realize it is wrong.

The problem isn't with the Web, it's with current Web standards. The concept of a secure platform for rapid application development and world-wide distribution is great, but Web standards (HTML5 + CSS3 + JavaScript) are really failing to deliver on their promise.

There are apps written in HyperCard 20 years ago that are richer than anything that has been created on the Web that I know of. With iOS, Android, WP7, developers are developing better apps faster than is possible with HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. The Web needs better standards to compete; HTML, CSS, and JavaScript are a dead-end.

I think the 'war of mobile OS' as the author calls it will end just as the also still ongoing 'war for the desktop OS' will end: by the introduction of the web OS.

An OS is just a GUI for working with your files. As our devices, whether desktop or mobile, will continue to move towards an 'always on, always connected' phase it would be no more than logical to seperate the device from the OS and to launch whatever OS you feel like working with today on any device you want to launch it on.

Wherever you are in the world, whether it's on a crappy computer (with great internet connection) in a hostel in Thailand, in the train on your phone, you will always have your files and operating system of your choice available.

I think there will always be places without a network (that works). The web platform will need a much more functional cache to handle this, but the architecture is already there.

I haven't seen Call of Duty or Final Cut Pro in the web yet. Native applications haven't given up the ghost yet and I really don't expect them to. They are more responsive to the user and easier to build.

Other than the link 6ren http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=2371909 provided for the Fallacies of Distributed Computing, I believe the problem for apps on the web are the crappy state of web client development. Project Builder / Interface Builder or the 1st version of Visual Studio can build better apps than tool today in an easier manner.

It's not a zero-sum game with native vs web apps. The web will not kill native apps, but for many applications the web offers a better platform than native development. For example, look at the rise of GMail's web client over MS Outlook - for many users a web client is easier, with mail accessible from any device with a browser.

New HTML5 features will extend these advantages to more types of apps beyond webmail. The same question came up over at Quora, with thoughful responses: http://www.quora.com/Is-HTML5-the-mobile-app-killer

It does matter, especially when you have Microsoft crippling the web with their consistently outdated browsers. Just look at what WinPhone7 is running compared to everyone else's webkit-based solutions. Even when they get their ie9 on the phone it will still be behind the browsers in ios, android (including firefox and opera), and the newer blackberries.

We'll be writing if(ie) conditionals for a long time if people start buying winphone 7

I don't see the desktop becoming obsolete. I can't think of another way to do my daily tasks without it. I can't think of another way for my clients too. A tablet and a smart phone are a great addition for my client X, but they don't replace his desktop computer. The iPad, iPhone and Xbox are enough for the kids to have fun, but when they want to browse the Internet and do a presentation, I doubt that the iPad is flexible and powerful enough. I doubt also that Google SpreadSheet is flexible and powerful as Microsoft Office Powerpoint.

A new trend has emerged (Internet + SmartPhones) because we have (the citizen of Planet Earth) become excessive technology users. We have become data holics. We like communication and Internet had just made it easier and more accessible. People got addicted to Information and the awesomeness of technology. That's why they buy the iPad. If they affrod it, they'll pay for it. People pay for the desktop because they need it. Different people have different usages. Some poeple don't use a PC everyday, but a one week usage justifies the purchase.

Who cares? Developers do! For example Nokia's decision to ditch Qt4 means that we have to wait for "write once, run anywhere" even longer. And I am not so sure whether the browser will solve it all again. I think Microsoft and Apple are going to make sure that this won't happen again. In fact they already did so by removing the customers' freedom to install and run software of their choice.

You should seriously consider joining the FAP store, which is for the Brother IntelliFax 2800.


After watching the above pitch; why you would want to do anything in the web or utilise web technologies, when there are powerful app stores like this launching on your fax machine, I have no idea ;)

In what world have online office solutions or, even better, web-based photo editing software replaced their Desktop counterparts for even the simplest use cases? I see no widespread adoption at all, which renders the argument moot.

Whoever thinks web apps have already taken over lives in a very peculiar bubble.

There are certainly plenty of native desktop applications which have not been supplanted by web applications. But the bigger problem is that desktop machines typically have high speed, almost unlimited data connections.

This is not necessarily true for mobile platforms, where there can be coverage issues, bandwidth limitations due to insufficient spectrum and/or cell power buildout, or worse yet, magic break points after which you pay $$$/kb uploaded or downloaded. This is one of the reasons why local storage and native applications may be much more important for mobile applications. No one expects to bring a desktop computer onboard an airplane or a subway and be able to read e-mail. But they do expect to be able to do this on a mobile device.

If I'm Apple, Google, or Microsoft I'm going to care a lot because - native or web - users need a platform for applications, and those platforms represent a) revenue potential (see the iPad business) and b) a potential control point (see MSFT for the past two decades). As far as I'm concerned, the native vs web application question is secondary to the platform question. We're going to have both, and yes web clients will increase share. That doesn't change the fact that whoever is supplying the most popular platform for apps - web or native - will have control and profit potential in spades.

The PC/Mac app market was fairly small for independent developers and very few people bought a large number of desktop apps. It is true that the web (mostly free sites and e-commerce sites) was able to deliver a lot of new "apps" to desktop users.

However, imo the post is mistaken in assuming that the mobile world will be exactly like the desktop world. The mobile app store economy is evolving in a very different way from the desktop world. That, in itself, is an indication that mobile app world may not "fade away to be replaced with the www equivalent of mobile"

Is mobile app store popularity a fad?

In some ways I think not. In many ways it looks like the latest GameBoy, Nintendo DS market, combined with the PDA market. These are not new markets, only their ease of use is new, and for PDA type apps, exposure.

But it seems most people install new apps, and only use a very small subset. As the novelty of a phone with an app store wears off, I suspect we will see a return to people only installing a few apps. Much in the way as the shareware scene - I used to try out lots of apps. Now I generally only install a small set of proven, good, open source/free tools, and try one or two others a year. Often prompted by personal recommendations.

It's not just the difference in app numbers, in app quality, in app language (you can probably do more with 1gb of memory in objc than java), but it's the integration, the user experience. On the computer, it's all well and good doing everything on your browser, but unless you're in full screen mode you're seeing something other than the page you're on. Apple does that bit best. (and others, but it's further ahead in the look of the out-of-app bits)

More people would use desktop apps if they were easier to install. I tried to talk my mom through installing skype the other day, and we hit a snag. So she just used the video chat in gmail. Skype would have been better for her for various reasons, but she settled. If Skype were in an app store, she'd have bought it.

I install way more software when I'm in a linux environment, since it's just one simple command to do so.

I don't think that the OS "war" will necessarily lead to an open, web based standard. It may well be that one of the contenders manages to make their "platform" so irresistible to users that they flock to that one OS, and we all will have another "MS" for a decade or two.

Its also the job of every developer to "guide" the users towards the best choice. More apps should have a browser version, for instance.

interesting, I would say this is no different to any other inovation we have had in the past. Look at the car for instance it doesn't matter how fast it can go according to it's speedometer or what version of gas you buy, you are limited to the speed limit on the road you are travelling on at that time. So mobile Telco's will need to play a more direct role in delivering content more efficiently, for instance why have all the infrastructure laid out and bandwidth paid for for all the $$$ flying past which they can't get in on. Why not host something, apps, search, whatever and make mobile data, faster and more efficient. Hell how come no matter what TV you have you can get a decent picture without any download issues. Maybe we are too focused on hardware and not delivering stable, fast, realtime content.

I completely agree. I'm curious how we would abstract the rest of the hardware though. cam/mic/sensors can't be accessed from javascript (yet?).

> the web literally blew away the platform differences to something that is comparable to a flavor rather than a huge technical difference or advantage.

yeah, web photoshop and web office are real alternatives ...

This isn't a particularly insightful comment, but I get your drift. The thing is, for the generation of teenagers and young adults, web-based software is actually relatively easier to use than native software because they grew up on the web. Even if you sacrifice some functionality using Google docs instead of Word, many people prefer the benefits of an instant-on, no-install, free, auto-syncing solution. So yeah, it is a viable alternative.

Yeah, but it doesn't mean the desktop war was lost/won.

Desktops are the niche of professional (or power) users. Tablets are where the web will point - because tablets (and phones) will be how the casual user will "compute" in the future.

So to me, web apps will never (well not in the near future) win the desktop war - just because they can't offer the speed and power a professional user needs.

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