Web 2.0: The Desktop / Web Mash-ups

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

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
, and it enables customers to
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
) 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
– to provide more than the sum of these parts. For me, that’s what
makes NewsGator a true
Web 2.0

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