In the 1980s there was a cheesy film called Gleaming the Cube where a skater (Christian Slater) investigates the murder of his adopted brother at the hands of gun-runners. (Despite featuring Tony Hawk as Buddy the film sucked.) At the moment many people are procastinating over the imminent death of the desktop PC at the hands of web services (read web 2.0 companies).However this isn’t the whole truth, in fact the future of the desktop PC and the web lies in those in the industry call the chrome.
When you download Google toolbar, use the search box in Firefox or Safari or use a desktop widget to access content online you are already ‘Gleaming the Chrome’. This is the point at which the line between web and the desktop experience blur. According to those in the know its where ten per cent of search enquiries occur already.
With services like desktop search and online storage web companies are looking to blur the boundary between desktop and web even further. For a good while Microsoft has talked about improvements in search being about the places and way in which consumers can search; bringing the battle of web supremacy back to its heartland of the desktop.
Apple’s Leopard operating system beta had a very interesting feature which wasn’t discussed; the OS would include the ability to programme it using Ruby on Rails: a ‘relatively’* easy-to-use programming language gaining favour with many web developers and the basis of many really cool web services.
The details are too sketchy at the moment but it means the chrome could be reinvented in a whole pile of different and very interesting ways on the next generation Macs.
As one final aside, Guy Kawasaki, when asked what he would do to improve Yahoo! suggested that the company put three engineers in a garage to come up with an awesome browser Yowser that integrated the Yahoo! services.
It’s all about the chrome baby.
* It’s still too hard for a klutz like me to do something wicked cool with it, but in the hands of a competent developer and some good ideas, its the bomb.