I lied... Google DIDN'T steal our idea, just wanted to attract your attention. You see, Google I/O, a huge event bringing together thousands of developers, is having its 2010 edition right now, where it once again revealed itself to be following the same path as we are, by announcing the Chrome Web Store.
Buy Right Now and Get a Free Vacuum Cleaner
The Chrome Web Store will only be open at the end of the year, and it will be a marketplace where one can publish and sell web applications. The concept may seem a little bit strange for some people, but it is really not unlike Apple's App Store for iPods, iPhones, and alikes; or the Android Marketplace for Android powered mobile devices. Like in these previous installments, it will bring centralization, with all its benefits, to a world of web applications that often remain unnoticed due to the turbulence of the chaotic sea of information overload.
Even though it's getting easier and easier to sign up to different services nowadays, with open authentication methods becoming mainstream (Facebook Connect seems to be everywhere these days), they still don't beat the simplicity of hitting "buy" on the App Store, and being done with the process, with the application you selected now being easily accessible from your dashboard. This is the experience that I am expecting this marketplace to bring, hoping that it will bring forth an obliteration of nowadays' bias towards still developing native applications for cloud-connected devices.
Common sense would say that there is no reason to make native applications for smartphones for example, or that at least they should be a dying trend. Even though mobile devices are getting increasingly powerful, previous limitations that stopped the browser from being a container for any kind of application are disappearing, and internet access is becoming ubiquitous, the transactionable merchandise in the current popular application marketplaces, be it the App Store, Android Marketplace, or Steam, still consists of a native application. If you want to commercialize a web application in any of these stores, you still have to create a native application that will act as a client for it, and obviously deploying your application in all these markets amounts to lot of nonsensical extra work that shouldn't have to be done in the first place.
We're Losing Cabin Pressure
Google's version of a web application marketplace is not technologically revolutionary, but it is still nevertheless, a potential game changer, and another step in Google's apparent commitment to leave desktop applications dead and buried, an attitude we are on board with, and that I have addressed extensively in previous posts.
It's no coincidence that this service will be made available at the same time Google Chrome OS will be launched. To those not up to speed, Google Chrome OS is a very stripped down version of Ubuntu, that basically comes with the Google Chrome browser and little else, and which is meant to be run on netbooks with a custom firmware used to bypass traditional hardware detection routines for lightning-fast boot times.
If you join Google Chrome OS, with their evangelization of HTML5, their WebM codec, Chrome Web Store, Chrome's Native SDK and services like Google Cloud Print, you can see that Google is really pulling out all the stops to turn the browser into the container for all applications in the future.
We're in the Pipe, Five by Five
These moves are always a reassurance as to our mental sanity, as we were happy to see that at least one big industry player is seeing the future as we do, since this was yet another instance of Google revealing itself as to being on the same trail as us, but fortunately, still seeming to be miles away from the paradigm and service we want to establish for the next generation of the web.
Every post, I usually deliver a punchline or two about either Colony or Omni, one being our open-source modular application framework which is the fruit of two years of hardcore research and development, and Omni our holy-grail flagship platform-as-a-service that runs on Colony. There is currently no official portal for these technologies, since even though they are currently being used in-field successfully, they are for many reasons, still not consumer-ready. Today, and for the first time, I leave you with a coherent speech on what Omni is/will be, and how its ideology still distances itself as cutting-edge:
Traditional software development models fail miserably in promoting steady and measurable development of large-scale software that is highly pressured by environmental changes. We believe that a truly modular approach to software development (think legos) is the solution.
We have built the technology that supports a platform where beautiful modular rich internet applications, that rival desktop applications in every way, can be easily developed, deployed and consumed. We call this service Omni, and it will be "the iTunes of the web application world".
As a consumer you will be able to access all your applications from anywhere in the world, with any device and operating system, without ever having to think about storage or processing capabilities, paying only for what you use, just like electricity.
As a developer you will be able to develop and deploy new plugins using no more software other than a web browser. A plugin may be a new application by itself, which can re-use any of the hundreds of already available plugins (not counting third-party), or just an extension to an already existing application in the platform. You may sell and promote your work in our marketplace, benefiting from the ability to create attractive business models where you can offer and charge the consumer solely for the features he wants to use, thanks to our modular approach. You will be able to maintain your application without any kind of overhead, as you will be able to push any improvements to your consumers without them having to restart their service in any way, shape or form.
Desktop applications are dying, along with their isolated, rigid, and high-maintenance nature. A brave new world of flexible and ubiquitous services is coming to replace them, and it lacks only the earth where it can grow and flourish: Omni.