Quickly Moving Beyond The Web Browser

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Over the past few years a lot of the talk about the development of the Internet has been around wi-fi access everywhere. While we still seem to be a ways away from that, what we are seeing is a quicker shift towards Internet driven applications that are being used without the need of a browser.

Adobe Air is becoming one of the platforms by which you can download an application that is predominantly pulling the information from the Internet without having to open up a web browser. If you’re a fan of Twitter, then Tweetdeck is one of the many non-web browser based applications that is getting people excited.

It’s not just about the early adopters either.

The New York Times recently launched their Times Reader 2.0 which is based on the Adobe Air platform, and within a couple of minutes of playing with it you can begin to see how the future of online media is going to play out. The experience is both unique and compelling. In the past few years, I have been privy to some very interesting applications using these similar platforms – some of them for e-commerce, others for fashion and many that provide more powerful visualizations of data and information.

Just this week, Sean Howard (from Craphammer and now a full-time Twist Image team member) got me hooked on a Yahoo! application called, Sideline, that acts as a search, monitor and tracking application for Twitter. To get an idea of just how common these desktop driven web applications are becoming, take a look at the Google Chrome web browser. In the control panel you can easily take any one of your open tabs and turn that into an application shortcut on your desktop. Now, you don’t have to open your web browser and log into to Gmail, you can set-up the application shortcut and double-click it from your desktop as you would to start Microsoft PowerPoint.

From iPhone apps to desktop shortcuts to Adobe Air created applications, we’re starting to see the Internet everywhere.

If that doesn’t get you excited in terms of how Marketers and brands can now start creating applications that are driven by both mobile and web-based backends, I’m not sure what will. Imagine an Apple application or the Dell laptop community all right from your desktop. We got all excited about Widgets, but those were just tiny little applications that resided on your desktop with bits and bytes of info in hopes of driving consumers to a bigger and more engaging online experience, now with the advancements in desktop applications, the full brand experience can now be a quick click away… and it’s a full/enclosed experience that doesn’t compete against multiple tabs or a search box that can drive the consumer somewhere else.

It is the little things like this that are going to foster massive changes for the online experience over the next twelve months.


  1. agreed. Web development tools need to create Ajax Apps that automatically resized depending on the browser (conventional size or iphone/smartphone size.) This is what consumers of apps want and developers ideally should not have to be worrying about this but rather functionality.

  2. Great post. Amazing how quickly change comes in this digital world. If this trend continues the center piece of internet use could become obsolete.

  3. Hi Mitch –
    Thanks for the nice mention of Sideline, we’re glad you like it. As a marketing team inside Yahoo! that was responsible for building this app, we’ve found it incredibly useful to bubble up timely tweets that we can react to and therefore engage in the online conversation quickly.
    One little hack that we’ve been playing with is a component called “Important People” – a tongue and cheek (thanks to our team devs) look at ranking tweets by the “influence” of the author. It’s rudimentary, but helps us get a quick snapshot of the signal vs noise ratio:
    If you query “Yahoo Sideline” in the tool, you’ll show up in bright yellow, which is how I found you and this blog 😉 so it works for us.
    But this is a great post – traditional media has been described as fractured – too many outlets, to many distractions on our time. Now this is appearing to happen on the web, as people can aggregate content in the cloud, as well as via mobile devices. I can’t remember the last time I opened Tweetdeck – it’s usage for me has been surpassed by Tweetie on the iphone. And so the circle of life continues…
    Great blog. Keep up the good work –

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