A new company called ePlatform is planning a major coup. It will be an uphill battle but if they can pull it off, even a little bit, it will cause a dramatic shift in how we’re able to access our personal information including email, blogs, RSS, calendar, and photos.
Their goal is to take the applications we use on a daily basis and make them available over the internet – thinks like email, blogs, RSS readers, address book, calendar, tasks, journal, music, photos, etc…. This means the information and the applications are easily available from any web-enabled computer, the experience is identical everywhere, the software never crashes (ideally), and upgrades are without hassle because ePlatform handles all the hard stuff.
There are a few gaps in their offering, such as no word processor or spreadsheet, but since those applicaitons have features that are extremely difficult to reproduce faithfully on the web it makes sense that they would dangle their feet in the water with more common apps that don’t take a direct swipe at Microsoft’s bottom line. Don’t wake the sleeping giant, so to speak.
This move follows Google’s release of Google Maps and GMail, applications that have set a new standard for usability on the web. The technical term for applications that make you forget you’re working in a web browser are called Rich Internet Applications, or RIA, a term coined by Macromedia a few years ago.
Marc Andreessen, the 20-something co-founder of Netscape, speculated years ago that operating systems (meaning Microsoft Windows) would become obsolete once people started developing “desktop-type” applications for browsers. That day seems to be approaching, although a few years too late for Netscape. Not coincidentally, Blake Ross, the 19-year old kid who championed the creation of Mozilla Firefox also made this claim a few months ago as Firefox began to rapidly gain market share.
Bravo for ePlatform for ushering in the next wave of web applications.