Tuesday, January 6, 2009

If everything is moving to the network why do I want applications?

There's an odd dichotomy happening. We are seeing pretty massive shifts to services obtained over the network for all sorts oif things (buying stuff being the most obvious, but there are so many). Yet we also insist on having our "applications" local too?

By local application, I mean a chunk of functionality that runs on a client device and must be installed independently of the rest of the functionality on the device. So the browser is an application, but things that run inside it aren't (at least not by this definition).

Much of what we can do with our smartphones, etc. can be done using a browser (possibly using the mobile version of the web site), but with some very specific look and feel needs, we tend to download and install specific applications. This is of course, especially true on the iPhone where the apple applications are legion and well liked by the applerati.

So what drives this?
First and foremost, I believe is the desire to be in control of one's own destiny. The networks are not ubiquitous enough yet that we can rely on them to have what we need available whenever we might need it.

Second network cost - that can be expensive after a while.

Third pure preference - we like the look and feel of the apps we install and not of those we don't

Fourth capability. Organizaing/classifying is a core "client side" requirement. Rich experiences for doing that preclude us from using totally network based approaches - although tagging really assist with this.

There are probably lots of other reasons, but with capability moving into the network, it seems strange that i-apps are growing in strength and popularity