Eric Knorr @ InfoWorld : The long good-bye to the browser
Eric Knorr, from Infoworld had a very interesting perspective on the end the browser era:
It’s funny how cyclical technology can be. The early days of computing had mainframes and thin clients, then we went to desktop computing. The “Web 2.0” revolution (alright, I’ve succumb to the lingo bingo) is bringing us back to the thin client – now we are talking about the end of the second wave of thin clients – browsers and going back to desktop computing.
– I believe that browsers, like the OS, will become less relevant but will never go away. They will simply be a matter of preference. Browsers will always have a purpose – a common GUI framework that is safe (or should I say “safer” than desktop applications).
eBay asked EffectiveUI to build eBay Desktop not as a way to bypass the browser, but as a way to offer eBay’ers a richer, more engaging user experience – an experience that was not possible in a browser. Adobe AIR should be looked at as another tool to create applications that have more utility and purpose – to pick up where the browser leaves off. What is the most critical feature that Adobe AIR gives us? – It is certainly not its ability to make a connected desktop application. In combination with Flex, AIR gives us the ability to write once, and deploy anywhere (browser, OS – and soon mobile devises) – this is critical for large enterprises and small start-ups alike. These companies can now consolidate development efforts, focus on “getting good” at a more common, unified development practice, and not worry about cross-platform cross-browser compatibility issues. In other-words, they can now start focusing on more important things, like their customers …
You say that browsers will always have a purpose – a common GUI framework that is safe. And that’s because sometimes a dedicated application will do the job better than a generic tool.
But personally, I think you’re forgetting a W. It’s the World Wide WEB, remember? Because much of what makes the web the web lies in its interconnectiveness. An ebay app that make’s it easier to buy a used Mac is fine… but now what happens when I want to link to Apple’s site for a description? What if I want to search Google or MacWorld or epinions for reviews?
What if, heaven forbid, I want to visit Craigslist and search for the same item?
Will your dedicated ebay app let me do all of those things? Probably not. Most of them? Still no. Which is why, IMHO, browsers will always remain the tool of choice.
And not simply because they’re safe.
I think you are “arguing to agree” here … If you read the original article, Eric was making the case that the browser is going away, that it’s dead. The point of my post was to say “whoa, not so fast” – the browser has a purpose too, but not all applications need “hyperlink” technology (I would may need to link from eBay desktop to Apple – and if I do, I can easily do so by launching a browser from eBay Desktop). The eBay desktop experience is all about answering a need in the market – which is sometimes better to do on the desktop than within the constraints of a browser.
Will the browser be the “tool of choice”? – I think it will be , were appropriate – but more “niche” use cases will require us to leverage existing browser based code and extending functionality to deeper, more focused desktop applications…