Nick Bradbury thinks it is time for some minor revisions to Web 2.0, and posts Web 2.01 Release Notes. I'd like to highlight the points he makes regarding the web vs. desktop and share some further thoughts on this topic (below):


  • REVISION 1: It's about providing something useful, not something trendy.
  • REVISION 2: It's a mistake to rule out the desktop.
  • REVISION 3: Companies need to stop saying "mine" about stuff they have no right to own.
...REVISION 2: It's a mistake to rule out the desktop.

I rely on a number of excellent web apps and I expect to see the web continue to become the dominant application platform, but I believe reports of the death of desktop apps are greatly exaggerated. The future of the web isn't entirely web-based.

Over the next few years we'll see a number of new desktop apps which take advantage of the web as a platform, providing many of the benefits of a web app with the speed, usability and (in some cases) privacy of a desktop app. The next version of FeedDemon, for example, ties into an online API, and it enables customers to choose which data lives "out there" on the web and which stays private to their computer. We're going to see much more of this."

NewsGator - a Test Case for Web 2.0

Let me provide some context as to where Nick is coming from on this. Nick sold his RSS reader client software company (FeedDemon) to NewsGator.  NewsGator is leading company in the the RSS / feed reader space and a company worth looking at closely in the context of the desktop vs. web discussion.

(If you know about NewsGator, you can skip this para).  Earlier this month ,NewsGator also acquired NetNewswire. Due to these acquisitions, NewsGator provides a range of services and products that cross the web / desktop spectrum - it provides an Outlook RSS / feed reader plug-in, a stand alone desktop reader app (FeedDemon), web-only reader interface (NewsGator Online) / service, Media Center and mobile editions, and a podcatching product (FeedStation). The list goes on. It also has an RSS Enterprise Server.

What makes these offerings compelling (marketing-spiel for 'useful') is how a customer can use any of Newgator's products or services on their own or use a number of them together to solve certain scenarios that a single offering / component can't solve.  Data synchronization is a case in point. The challenges the company has to solve re: data synchronization (feed subscriptions/ OPML management, feed states, users preferences, etc) make it a good test case to understand how future service providers and software developers can utilize the advantages of a combination of resources: connectivity to network resources (data, webservices, etc), 'local' (customer data storage, to provide privacy, security options) and the richness of applications (leveraging of local resources e.g. processing, other 'bits', and Nick says, usability).

The Desktop / Web Mash-ups

If I may be allowed to paraphrase Nick, what he is saying is that the the future of computing is distributed. It lies not just with services delivered over the web (the web as a platform) nor just as a packaged desktop app with locally installed bits, but as a mix of both.  It is not an either / or future, but a 'mashed-up' future on a number of dimensions.

When people think of 'mash-ups' today, they should not only be thinking about how two or more online services can be combined to create something new, interesting and useful, delivered online only. They should also be thinking about how to take advantage of the web and the desktop - to provide more than the sum of these parts. For me, that's what makes NewsGator a true Web 2.0 company.


(See more of my Web 2.0 posts or others' at Technorati )