Is There a Future for Air Applications?

It seems more and more likely to me that all the buzz over building desktop applications in Adobe Air is just that: buzz.

I find myself increasingly using my mobile device (iPhone) in the same capacity I would have used a desktop client, pre-iPhone. While I initially played around with running Twitter in Twhirl, an Air-based client, that infatuation didn’t last long. Turns out that tabs in Firefox work just fine for toggling and I much prefer having acess to the full application rather than a limited version.

What’s also been surprising to me is how often I use my iPhone as a second or third screen, complementing use of my laptop. For example I often check email on my iPhone even while using a laptop; this is especially true if I’m engrossed in a spreadsheet or PowerPoint. I prefer reading feeds in Google Reader on the iPhone and I believe the idea of micro-sizing content and ‘flow‘ works just as well running an iPhone app as it does running an Air app on the desktop.

Plus if the Air or client version of your product is more simple and/or cleaner than the full application, shouldn’t that be telling you something?

In September, Joost killed off its desktop app entirely. This chart shows traffic for Twhirl having dropped off drastically, even as the popularity of Twitter overall has surged…less than a year ago Techcrunch stated that Twitter desktop clients were in an arms race for market share…it doesn’t seem that way any more:

Am I wrong? Do you remain as excited about desktop applications as you were a year ago?


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