Web Apps As Platforms

One of the big ideas of the Web 2.0 movement is that the web browser is a viable platform for building rich applications. Common examples of this included Gmail, Writely (now Google Docs), and one of my favorites – Gliffy. This idea has been proven pretty well, and Apple has made Safari the platform for developing iPhone applications, even though there are rumors now that Apple will be opening up some kind of SDK.

A lot has happened since Web 2.0 has become a major buzz word. New trends are becoming apparent every day. One trend I think is especially interesting is that Web Apps themselves are now becoming platforms for new applications. For example, Facebook has opened up to developers to build cool apps that run in the Facebook social networking environment. The Google Personalized Homepage offers another platform for people to develop small widget applications. More companies are following.

The opening up of APIs isn’t a new concept in itself. Web services was a major push of the Web 2.0 movement and we saw a flood of ‘mashups’ that mostly didn’t go anywhere. However, web services and web app platforms are now finding value. In September, Facebook, Accel and Founders Fund launched a Facebook fund to give investment money to the most promising Facebook App ideas. Why code up a new social network application, when you can build your application inside one of the major social networking applications?

Twitter is becoming a platform for new age communication. In a “Scaling Twitter”presentation at RailsConf, Blaine shared that 90% of requests to Twitter were through their API. People are using Twitter for purposes beyond telling your friends about every mundane detail of their lives. Phil shared some ways that people are extending twitter by creating Twitterbots. Twitterbots are using Twitter as a platform to send messages through SMS, email, RSS, etc.

Seth Godin talks about his vision of Web 4.0 in an interview with Gerhard. He basically describes the web that is focused on events in your life. For instance, because you have a smart phone, and the web knows you have a meeting in San Francisco, and it knows that the plane is delayed, it will alert the people you are meeting with that you will be a few minutes late. It seems like something like this would revolve around messaging. While I doubt Web 4.0 will be exactly as Seth envisions it, the world is moving towards faster, shorter, more frequent communication. I believe Twitter is going to remain a big player in this new style of communication.

I think we’re going to see more and more web applications becoming platforms for new applications. What do you think?

One comment

  1. Debi K says:

    Thanks for the recent mention of Gliffy. We appreciate being included as one of your favorites! Any feedback you have is welcome to our ears–especially as it relates to increasing communication. Great thoughts on diversifying applications. Definitely something to keep our eye one. Thanks again~ debik (at) gliffy (dot) com

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