Online applications and the compatibility question

Online applications and the compatibility question

I was quoted in a ChannelWeb article about the launch of Adobe’s new on-line application suite, which is going to compete with similar offerings from Microsoft and Google. I’m not sure if it comes through in my one-sentence write-bite, so let me amplify here just a bit.

When you schedule an event through an on-line service these days, whether it’s through GoToMeeting, WebEx, Evite, an airline, or what have you, you’re given an option along the lines of “add this event to my Outlook calendar.” You click a link, you open the attachment, you hit save, and boom — it’s on your Outlook calendar. Now it so happens that the attachment is an .ics file, which is compatible with more than just Outlook. But there are two important points here:

  1. If you don’t know that you can add the event to a calendar program other than Outlook, you probably won’t try.
  2. The fact that Outlook is mentioned by name on so many of these scheduling web sites helps cement its dominance not only in the Windows-based calendaring market but also in the calendaring market in general. If you’re looking for a calendaring program that makes it easy to track all the things you sign up for online, you’re going to go with the one that you already have instructions for, right?

Social networking and blog sites are seeing the same kind of thing. I don’t know whether Digg is the best-designed web aggregation and recommendation site out there, but I know that an awful log of blogs and other web pages have a “Digg this” link, which makes it a de facto leader in that particular niche.

So the point I was trying to make was that on-line application suppliers will have to worry about more than how well their own products work. They’ll have to make sure that other developers treat the products seriously and design integrations with them. If in the future we start seeing links on pages that say “Import this page to my Google site” or “Add this blog to my Office Live workspace,” we’ll know that those hosted apps are taking off. Will developers rush to add Adobe’s offerings to the mix? I’m pretty sure Adobe’s going to be a distant third in line.

Posted in All, Services, Technology on Jun 5th, 2008, 12:27 pm by David Schrag   

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