I was never prompted or felt compelled to write up my thoughts on Joel's article until tonight when a co-worker sent it my way and it landed in my inbox... again. Here was my response.
I saw it in RSSBandit since I'm subscribed. 🙂 It's interesting and contains a lot of truth. I don't buy the argument that the web interface is good enough for everyone. To me, it's sort of like saying that America will never leave a 56k modem. Now over 50% of the country is on broadband. True enough that these people are just now discovering cool web applications that have finally started to emerge from the dust of the .com boom settling, but the pendulum hasn't really started to swing back towards client programming yet. This does have a lot to do with most users and developers waiting for the dust to settle in the "API war" and next generation platforms Microsoft is designing.
Selfishly looking at myself as an early adopter I noticed that for several years (once I had a t-1 line at Vandy) I really did think that it would be a web only world, but now I'm starting to see real needs for rich clients. I can't go back to reading web pages in a browser now that I have RSS Bandit. Web based bug reporting is useless to me after getting used to Product Studio (Our internal bug client software). I'm not alone. At some point today the #3 suggestion on the MSDN feedback centers was RSS support and another request for a "good offline client" was also up there. This is the early adopter pendulum starting to swing back towards a need for good client software.
I'll add that yes, g-mail is a great web app, but it won't be in everyday use for me unless there is a client for it that I can trust to just leave on when I'm logged into windows, use faster spell checking, and send replies much quicker.