It’s interesting to see how, just as computing moved from central servers to the desktop over two decades ago, the web is moving from a network of centrally-hosted tools to being a collection of applications hosted on individual comptuers.
First came Adobe Apollo, a largely Flash-based framwork built to allow cross-platform applications to be built using web technologies. So far, so proprietary. However, over at Read/Write Web, Richard MacManus now reports that Firefox 3 will be built to support offline applications. He notes that:
[…] of course this plays right into Google’s hands.
Although Mozilla is an open source organization, some of its top workers are employed by Google. So it’s a very cozy relationship. We’ve discussed before how Firefox 3 as information broker suits Google very nicely, because the Mountain View company has a number of best of breed web apps – and if it’s not building them, it’s acquiring them (YouTube, JotSpot, Writely, etc).
Essentially, Google can use this as a platform to bring its web-based applications to the desktop, with a much lower overhead than the likes of Microsoft (which has a competing technology). The same application can be written once and work across any operating system – and because Firefox is open source and uses open standards, anyone can build an application that does this. Unless something goes horribly wrong, in fact, this is the applications platform of the future, and because the operating system will essentially become irrelevant, Google may well topple Microsoft without becoming the new evil enemy. Definitely one to watch.