Apps – Not so Fast

The internets are abuzz with the reverb from the presentation by Forrester's George Colony at Le Web, with his three thunderstorms proclamation, one of which is that the apps universe has a lot more momentum than the network dependent internet/cloud model, primarily because processing and storage capacity growth outpaces network growth.

I agree with the premise, but really find the "internet's dead, long live the app" hype a bit exaggerated.  The app's are not a new phenomenon. In fact, the PC paradigm was based on the app model: executable code processing real time locally.  The apps of today are getting all the attention mainly thanks to Apple's phenomenal innovations on mobile computing interfaces: namely the iPhone and the iPad.  Apple's led the way to take the advantage of i/o and design innovations, and other tech co's are just following suit.  

And what makes the apps more than just updated desktop applications, is the seamless way they interact with the cloud and the data on other devices and the cloud.  In fact, I think the current app paradigm, which keeps data in tubes (i.e. not easily accessible like HTLM), has an achilles heel.

What has made the web the most powerful computing advent to date is its openness and neutrality.  The apps either have to find a way to make themselves permeable, or go the way of the dodo.  The apps have unfortunately broken the internet, while bringing us fantastic user experience.  Now disrupters need to find ways to open them up.  Whether Apple likes it or not.

Going back to Colony's death of internet meme, I found it to be a bit short-sighted, with smart analysis of a very short period of trends and data. I plan to write a bit more about his two other points soon:  social saturation and enterprise.

By the way, there are quite a few people who thing that HTML5 will bridge the app usability and internet network effects.  I have not got my arms around HTML5 enough to opine on this, but quite excited to see the innovations on that front.

For those interested, there's a good debate in the comments on Fred Wilson's A VC.

UPDATE: I just got sent a link to a good post by Dave Winer on the same topic.

Here's Colony's presentation from Le Web:

 

iPad First Impressions

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I got a chance to play around with an iPad yesterday.  I wanted to record my first  impressions, to see if (or rather, how) they will change over time.

  • The screen is awesome.
  • The gestures are a bit more natural for me than the iPhone.
  • It really is a large iTouch.  But "large" makes a huge difference.
  • I wish it were kindle-light.  Not sure that it's as good a substitute for an e-reader.  However, if I'm traveling, I'll probably just grab one device, and naturally, it's the iPad.
  • The lack of a camera is a non-issue, at least in the first version.
  • I recently had a conversation about the differentiated advertising paradigm on an iPad.  I am now more convinced of it.  There will be new ways to advertise/interact with the audience on pads.
  • I wish it were open.  Would speed up development and foster creativity.

I remain convinced that it's a giant leap in UI and user experience. 

The iPad UI Shift

Marc Benioff (of Salesforce.com) has a thought-provoking piece on TechCrunch the future of software, emphasisizing, unsurprisingly, the cloud, and surprisingly, the iPad.

I have not yet seen or used the iPad but i agree with most of Marc's points.  I have stated that I think the iPad is being discounted using the laptop/smartphone paradigm, and that seems to me like a mistake.  The iPad will open new doors to creativity, similar to what Flash, iPhone and Facebook enabled.  And the new form factor will allow for uses not thought of right now.

And the fact that it's an Apple product will allow it to make it past Geoffrey Moore's bowling alley.  Many paradigm shift potentials get stuck there and the iPad will coast past it.  That's the Apple factor.

However, the most interesting part of Benioff's post is this for me:

In 1999, I was obsessed with the question, “Why isn’t all enterprise
software like Amazon.com? And in 2010, the question evolved: “Why isn’t
all enterprise software like Facebook?” This week we will have the
answer to that question in our hands with the iPad. It’s a more
productive, easier, and fun way to work and live. The iPad shows us the
old world is no longer good enough. We’ll need new software with a new
UI.

The last statement I agree with, and am excited about.  And the iPad is a product that certainly makes Benioff's statement possible and credible.