A few years ago, we saw a big push for software as a service (SaaS). Why built big clunky pieces of software that required installs and updates when you could sign folks up with just a browser and a registration, and push updates on the fly... makes a lot of sense, right?
Well, now I'm thinking that the browser isn't really the right place for a lot of these apps. I think the tipping point for me was yesterday when I tried to run Zimbra, Gmail, Facebook, MySpace, Google Docs, Typepad, and Newsgator all out of the same browser window in tabs. Firefox and it's lovely memory leak ballooned to 800MB of memory usage and my computer started spitting up Mentos and Coke. Ok, so not really, but it definitely slowed to a crawl.
Today, I'm back in Outlook, patched into our Zimbra server in a desktop e-mail client.
Browsers were historically meant to show text and graphics in a one way broadcast, and now we're asking them to run some pretty resource intensive apps. I don't know if Apollo is the answer, but it seems pretty clear to me that we're going to see some apps bust back out of the browser and onto the desktop while retaining some connection to the web.
Desktop apps are better for uploading, which is key in a two-way, interactive web and notifications as well. (That's why I was never a fan of MeeboMe.... didn't want to have to sit in the browser window the whole day to see IMs.)
So are desktop widgets the answer or does someone need to build a better browser for running apps? And when does this start to happen?