It’s obvious that in most cases, simply being a web application isn’t going to be enough: the online photo editors that I’ve reviewed are nice enough, but a software giant that has a huge user base might often be able to wipe them all simply by releasing an online, light version of their desktop application - and this scenario is very plausible in the case of Photoshop Online.The post, of course, is precipitated by Adobe's announcement that an online version of Photoshop is in the works. Speculation is that other Web 2.0 image editors have just become also-rans, but also that Adobe has imperiled its core desktop apps by signaling a desire to play on the thin client side. The thing to watch here is Adobe's new Apollo platform, which promises the ability to make web and desktop apps essentially the same thing -- alllowing a both-and strategy. Apparently developers are enthusiastic.
So, what conditions do Web 2.0 startups have to meet to make sure they can’t easily be replaced (because of zero switching cost) by another application, or to make sure that they add enough value over their desktop counterparts to be competitive?
Let's also remember that Adobe, Google, and Microsoft are not the only players in the web app space. Morfik is getting good press for its AJAX platform:
You can also create web services using Morfik. In our discussion, I noticed that Adobe's Flex was being mentioned a lot as a point of comparison. In the case of web services, the Morfik developers told me their platform offers "everything in one box" - that developers can use external things, unlike with Flex.
Another feature of Morfik is that it can create "unplugged" web apps, meaning offline functionality. They've built real world examples (some which can't be mentioned publicly yet) that can run unplugged, with access to a central or local database - all via the web browser! Yes, offline web browsing and well before Firefox 3 has delivered similar functionality.
One real world example I can quote is a French investment house, which is using Morfik technology to allow their salesforce to go out into the field and collect data on their laptops, in the browser but offline - then when they come back to the office, everything is synced up automatically.