Lots of people agree we need to get beyond HTML and the page-based browser interface. Only three companies, however, have large enough distribution to have a realistic shot at getting there with a software client: Microsoft, Sun, and Macromedia. (Napster might have in a parallel universe, but ’twas not to be.)
Java seems destined to be a crucial piece of back-end infrastructure but a bit player on the client side. Flash has >90% penetration, and it’s on devices like Tivo and mobile phones as well as PCs. If something other than Internet Explorer is going to be the interface of the future, Flash is most likely to succeed. Not that it will be easy. It’s a risky strategy for Macromedia, because it goes away from the company’s traditional focus and puts it directly in Microsoft’s cross-hairs. But the payoff could be huge. The back-end hooks and runtime are in place. What’s missing, so far, are compelling applications.
This is a topic I am writing about in this week’s Tech Talk in my “Rethinking the Desktop” series.