There is intense interest currently in Apple’s success with a walled market for apps you install locally on the device. Developers get a route to market, and Apple helps with monetization in return for a substantial share in the money.
The challenge is to extend this to the web at large and make it scale across devices from different vendors. Users shouldn’t have to care about whether the app is locally installed, or downloaded on the fly from the cloud.
Today, many web apps are tied to websites, e.g. google docs is tied to the use of google’s server docs.google.com. End users don’t have a free choice in where apps run, and lack control over where their data resides.
Imagine a market where I can choose an app/service and have it run on my own virtual server. This is akin to taking the idea of a device and expanding it into the cloud. My personal device includes my personal space in the cloud. I buy apps for my personal use and “install them” in this personal space. My personal space can include all of the devices I use, including mobile, desktop, tv and car. I may share my space with others, e.g. my family, friends or colleagues.
This model introduces new players and enriches the ecosystem compared with today’s narrower model, creating broader opportunities for developers. What’s needed to realize this vision?
- Smarter caching and local storage for web pages will blur the distinction between online and locally installed web apps
- Support for monetization, which is likely to necessitate some form of Web Application License Language
I am encouraged by the announcement of Mozilla Open Web Apps, and hope to explore these ideas further as part of an EU funded project called webinos which has only recently started with a view to making it easier to deliver apps across mobile, desktop, tv and cars.