Friday, July 27, 2007

Local calendars are dead, he says

Paul Thurott: "The email application is dead. So, too, is the local calendar application."

Someone needs to notify the mobile phone companies, who will ship maybe a billion "local calendar applications" this year.

But I know what Paul's talking about. It looks like the writing is on the wall for calendar applications that don't live in the browser. But we don't know exactly what the date of death will be -- yet.


George Sudarkoff said...

Browser has nothing to do with this. It's how you access your calendar that matters, not what you access it with.

Michael said...

I can see the point of my calendar (or at least the main copy of it) living on the Net: I can access it from any internet-enabled device wherever I am. Moreover, my data will be safer, since the back-up procedures for the server will probably be better than mine for my desktop machine -- and certainly better than most people's, since most people's are non-existent.

That said, why would I want to access it with an application built for browsing webpages rather than one designed for the purpose? Granted, I'd want web-access, as one of the possible means for accessing my calendar, but I fail to see why it would be my preferred method let alone the only one.

Paul Thurrott might have had a point if he'd said: In the future fewer developers will undertake the mammoth task of writing a desktop application when rapid and cheap development is possible by building in the browser (c.f. 37 Signals). The economics of the situation means web apps looks set fair to undermine desktop apps in many areas. But even if he'd wanted to say that there'd be nothing new there: it would be true but unsurprising. However, Thurrott seemed to be saying that web apps are nicer to use. He's lost me there. They're far less powerful and far less suited to any particular application (in the sense of use) than a program designed for the purpose.

Take email as an example. I know Thurrott's a webmail user and so obviously he likes it, but who could honestly say that webmail, while usable, gives you anything like the functionality and degree of flexibility of a decent IMAP client? Now, it's easier for neophytes to subscribe to a webmail service than to set up and use an account in an email client program, since they already know how to use a web browser. But for any advanced user webmail simply doesn't cut the mustard.

Again, look at Google Maps for the iPhone. It's an application that uses an internet-based service but it's a purpose designed application. The experience for the user could not have been so rich, if Apple had just said: The users have a web-browser; let them get on with it. In point of fact, Apple's telling third-party developers to use Safari to deliver applications to the iPhone has caused a bit of bad blood -- see, for example, iPhone's AJAX SDK: No, thank you from Wil Shipley. Shipley, and many others, would like to build "real" applications for the iPhone, because they know they can deliver a better user-experience that way.

In fine, I don't agree with Thurrott at all. I think applications running in the browser may begin to undermine desktop applications for economic reasons. I fail to see how they would be improvements on purpose-built internet-facing applications from a use point of view.

Anonymous said...

Is no one concerned about protecting personal data? In that sense the browser access does matter.
I do not want my data on Google anything, on MSN, or facebook. i want my stuff on my pc, in my software, preferable not outlook.