Ben Bajarin is the Director of Consumer Technology Analysis and Research at Creative Strategies, Inc, a technology industry analysis and market intelligence firm located in Silicon Valley.
There is a debate happening in the industry about whether or not we are heading toward a future where all computing takes place in the browser or where all computing takes place with native or installed software.
Today we download and install software or apps on our PCs, smart phones, tablets, and connected TVs. In the future this may not always be the case. It’s possible that in the future all of our software will run in the browser, not natively as an installed application. We call these applications “web apps.”
A web app is an application that is used through a web browser instead of being downloaded and installed onto your PC or device. A web app has all the functionality of an installed application. The only major difference is that to use a web app you need to be connected to the Internet.
You may think that idea is crazy. We aren’t always connected to the Internet, so why would you want to use software that you can’t use when you’re not connected? That’s a good question. However, if you think about many of the things you use a computer for on a regular basis you will find that they require a connection: E-mail, Facebook, twitter, surfing the Internet, searching the Internet, web browsing, downloading, streaming, and a whole lot more all require the Internet. I’d be willing to bet that for most people, the Internet is involved in over 90% of the things they do with a PC.
But to be fair, most of us are used to what we call the hybrid experience; one in which we take advantage of Internet-based content when possible, while relying on local apps during the times we can’t connect via the various devices we might use in our daily lives.
I had an experience recently where the power went out where I live. This power outage affected a major power source for the cellular service provider data towers, so although I had cell service, I had no mobile data. Between having no mobile data and my power being off, which knocked out my DSL connection, I was literally without the Internet.
It was at that time I realized that without the Internet, my notebook was basically a paperweight. Of course that’s not completely true but everything I needed to do in that moment required the Internet. That experience got me to thinking about all the things I do regularly that require the Internet.
I came up with a list, and the only things I use my PC for that don’t require the Internet are writing, editing photos and making videos. And without the Internet, I can’t send or share my writing or photos or videos.
With that in mind, the argument which states that the Internet should not be required for us to use our computers doesn’t hold water. The reality for most of us is that the Internet is a critical part of our everyday experience with our computers.
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