Monday, 30 November 2009

Why are Web Apps the same?

Ok, still need to make a review of Jolicloud... I must admit, I didn't use Jolicloud as much as I was expecting but enjoyed what I saw. They have work to do and everything is still too slow to be my main OS for now but because I was running from a pen, couldn't install the updates to see if it gets better.
I'll be installing it completely during this week but I'm now even more excited with Chrome OS (that apparently works on Dell Mini v10 netbooks).

Back to the post topic...
I've been using some of the web apps I listed on previews posts. In general they're great, some more useful than others but great. I'm really impressed by Zoho apps actually.

What's the problem then?
Well, I can do what they do and sometimes better and/or quicker with Desktop applications! Ok, the data doesn't get stored in the Cloud with desktop apps, at least not until you install Dropbox .
I'm not being pessimist, I still believe in the Cloud but, that won't convince anyone by itself.
What do you answer to a casual user that asks "Why should I change if I have everything I need?". Firstly, they always think to have enough until they start using something else ;) and then you can talk about mobility of data.
But is that enough?

What happens if someone only uses one machine? Well, they aren't the target public of Cloud services probably, not! Most of cloud services have (or should have) social and share features, they are great but, why do you need them if you don't have "anyone" to share with?
We need everyone, even those "one machine only" users, but we must admit, we're asking for a big change, it's not like installing a new Office version! Users need to be educated.

So, with that said, what can we do? Simple, stop trying to port desktop applications into the web and trying to rival with years of development and support.
Look at the Pixlr example, it's amazing, I don't need to install Photoshop neither Paint.NET ever again but, what if I already had those installed? After speaking with some people that use Photoshop more often, they think Pixlr is ok but misses some core functionality! So, what's the point?

Since we already need to educate users anyway, why not making a complete change? Why not starting looking at what the web has that desktops don't, social & share features, new UI designs, new functionality... Basically rethinking the way we use the computer!
It needs to feel different, newer and better for the average user to adopt the product. Users need to feel that after using some of the web apps they can't even think on going back to the equivalent outdated desktop app.

Now it's the time, cloud services and apps need to be the key for this turning point to work, they need to leave everything else behind!
Though, still a long way to go...

See you later,


  1. Since I use two or more computers, I started using Google Docs intensively a few weeks ago. It worked fine: I could access my documents wherever I was. However, I missed some MS Word features (for example, the document map) and it still felt a bit awkward.
    Then, Diogo sent me a link to It is simply wonderful. It made me roll back to MS Word: I could now work on my files in any computer, using my preferred software. I still use Google Docs for shared documents in my company, but I'm sticking with Word for personal docs of for simple transfer of files (those that don’t need to be updated by more than one person). Word is still easier and more powerful. (By the way, I tried Office Live, but Dropbox is better.)
    Therefore, I’m in a cloud/non-cloud kind of place (a quasi-cloud, so to speak). I use dropbox, which is part of the new cloudy paradigm, but I use it to emulate a non-cloud way of doing things.

  2. Thanks Marco.
    Sorry to say this but the first paragraph sounded like those TV Shop user testimonials :)
    Well, that's a big problem, the cloud is trying to overtake desktop apps by emulating what desk apps are best for...
    This is probably the way market is learning, trying to imitate until it fails and then think of what needs to be different.
    Is that clear?

  3. I guess if you're comparing traditional desktop apps to web-apps, then web-apps are always going to be inferior.
    But there are lots of web 'apps' like twitter, youtube, facebook, etc. for which there's no desktop equivalent... blogs too! ;)