I recently mentioned Prism in a prior entry and how it was an intriguing business model. What I didn’t realize is how widespread a movement it seems to be, as suggested in this Knowledge@Wharton article. A brief blurb:
It’s been a busy few weeks for the big technology companies. On October 1, Adobe Systems announced an agreement to buy Virtual Ubiquity, a company that has created a web-based word processor built on Adobe’s next generation software development platform. One day earlier, Microsoft outlined its plans for Microsoft Office Live Workspace, a service that will combine Microsoft Office and web capabilitiesso that documents can be shared online. Recently,Google introduced a technology called “Gears” that allows developers to create web applications that can also work offline. The common thread between the recent moves of these technology titans: Each company is placing a bet on a new vision of software’s future, one which combines the features of web-based applications with desktop software to create a hybrid model that may offer the best of both worlds.
Such a model seems to make a lot of sense, both from the perspective of users as well as developers. From a developer perspective, I can see how simply gaining information on how their products are used (albeit possibly involving some privacy complications) could be invaluable. In addition, tying software to a service will likely curb piracy – its one thing to bypass protection mechanisms on standalone software but something quite different to try to fake an account setup to take advantage of an online service (at least given what little I know about it).
Then again, as the article points out, this movement may simply be the latest iteration of a trend that has never quite caught on (e.g. MS Hailstorm, “thin” computing, network as the computer, etc. etc.).