Category Archives: The New Web
I declare that emphatically because I want it to be so. I’m sure I’m not the only code monkey out there praying that “write once, run anywhere” doesn’t leave us like ###… Even now web developers have to test across at least 3 different browsers,* but at least things are trending towards standardization and it’s becoming easier to create a web app that will behave the same independent of a user’s choice of browser.
Smartphones pose a serious threat to that ubiquity in the same way that the differences between Windows, Mac OS, and Linux made developing desktop apps an elephant-sized pain in the ass. Web developers have long wished and advocated for browsers that run everything the same way. While that is probably never going to happen, the difference between developing for IE, Firefox, Chrome, Safari, and Opera is much (much much) smaller than the difference between developing for Windows, Mac, and Linux.
if (Portability > Usability) then ?
There is a reason that desktop-style web apps are popular. Yes, people still use Outlook, Thunderbird, and many other fat desktop clients for email, but there’s a reason that there’s 300 million people using Yahoo Webmail, Gmail, Hotmail, and AOL Webmail (I extrapolated that number from these percentages of market share), and that given the choice, 49% of people choose Gmail as the best email client. There’s also a reason that Google has basically given a big fat middle finger to native iPhone apps with their Gmail client in HTML5 (and now Google Voice web app, also in HTML5). There a reason that there’s a lot more “mobile touch” web sites than there are iPhone and Android apps. There’s a reason that I get practically all of my links from Read/Write Web and not Read/Write Native Smartphone App.
That reason is Portability. That is: I can run a web app from anywhere on anyone’s computer (or phone) as long as I’ve got internet access. So, while a client like Outlook or Thunderbird offers a slightly faster response time and some extra features, if you use one of those and don’t use a web-app version in addition to the desktop client, you suddenly sound like someone who doesn’t really know how the internet even works (do you really want to be the person who says: “I have to check my email on my home computer”?)
And for the second part of the equation: Usability – the gap between web app and desktop app is getting smaller every day. Web developers continue to push the limits of what web-based applications can do with respect to speed and user interfaces. Sure, web apps (even the good ones) are slow compared to native apps when they’re running on a (relatively) slow phone with a (relatively) slow 3G internet connection. But the speed of the phones and the connections is improving even faster than the speed of the apps themselves.
So, now take the difference in Portability (we’ll say this difference is a fairly large positive in favor of web apps) and add the difference in Usability (we’ll say this is slightly negative with respect to web apps) and then add in the fact that you can write a web app in one language and have it run on every single phone and computer with internet access and see if you don’t come out with a conclusion that says: HTML is the Future.
And, if you want some awesome tips for developing in HTML5, check out Alex Bosworth’s post.
* Yes, all you Opera and Safari heads, I said at least.
or: The True Power of RSS
On the same day when TechCrunch delivered this piece on the Internet as Robin Hood, I also realized how irrelevant “old media” and/or “the establishment” has become to me personally. What brought me to this realization before I even looked at the TechCrunch article?
I am going to say with all honesty, that nearly all of the blogs I read via RSS (which is nearly all of the blogs I read) are focused on tech (e.g., TechCrunch) and basketball (e.g., Ball Don’t Lie). And yet, I still found out about Vajazzling only a day after Jennifer Love Hewitt was on George Lopez’s late night show. Thank you, Basketbawful.
You can almost see the sparkling Swarovski crystals.
As someone who has received some of the riches that Robin Interhood has stolen from the big news outlets, I can’t help but champion the power of the Internet. But honestly, I was kind of amazed that I can be plugged into pop culture even when I limit myself to two particular subject areas. And I’m not the only one who’s interested in this kind of thing. Tracking new media, I mean, of course. Not the vajazzling itself.
According to MacDailyNews:
“Apple Inc. acquired online music company Lala Media Inc., possibly signaling an expansion of the computer giant’s music strategy,” Ethan Smith and Yukari Iwatani Kane report for The Wall Street Journal.
Terms of the deal were not available, but there’s this:
“One person with knowledge of the deal, but who was not authorized to discuss it, said that the negotiations originated when Lala executives concluded that their prospects for turning a profit in the short term were dim and initiated discussions with Eddy Cue, Apple’s vice president in charge of iTunes,” Brad Stone reports for the New York Times. “This person said Apple would primarily be buying Lala’s engineers, including its energetic co-founder Bill Nguyen, and their experience with cloud-based music services.“
This Could Be Good If
1) Apple uses it to start their own cloud-based music streaming service complete with iPhone app and allows Lala.com users (like me) to transfer all their purchases to the new service. This scenario seems most likely if Apple is indeed basically just buying Lala’s engineers. Of course, the “be good” part of this hinges on Apple letting people move their purchases to the new service. Of course, people who don’t already use Lala won’t give a shit, and Apply might not care enough about the current users of Lala (who are probably a tiny minority of music listeners) to make this sort of transfer available.
2) Apple starts adding their branding muscle to Lala.com, and adds integration with Lala to iTunes. I mean, the service is already set up and seems to be working pretty well. The music syncing app could use some work, but that seems like something that Apply could do pretty well. Then they could add their Genius power to Lala to make it even awesomer (and get people to buy even more music, since the web songs are only 10 cents).
3) Apple does anything as good as Lala without Effing it up. I’m sure there are other possible roadmaps that my feeble mind has yet to conjure into being. As long as Apple doesn’t rip the still beating heart from Lala and stomp on it (as Google has done with Oh So Many Startups), then, it should be okay.