How the Web is Changing Software

by Ian Rosenwach on 6.14.2011

Jon Gruber at Daring Fireball and Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry at Silicon Alley Insider have great pieces on what iCloud says about how the Web is changing software.  This is my takeaway from this debate.

Let’s start with stating that the Internet is a medium for software distribution. Webpages are software, and the Web is a unique access model for consumers. There’s a UNIVERSE of software at our fingertips, 24/7. We access it over a Network instead of built into our computer.

Mr. Gobry states…

Here’s how Google and Apple’s vision of the cloud differ: for Google, the cloud means cloud + web; for Apple, cloud computing means cloud + software, with the internet stuff happening behind the scenes.

In Gruber’s view web apps “just change where the client-side software runs, and what APIs it is written against.”

I agree with both of these points.

Where Google excels as a Company is building web-based applications. Apple excels at creating a unified customer experience, from web to OS to hardware. That means Google is VERY dependent on the browser, but Apple competes in many more markets.

We can’t have this discussion without talking about iTunes – the cornerstone of Apple’s software strategy. This isn’t news to anyone, iTunes could really use a TOP NOTCH web interface (I’m a fan of Rdio).  This is where Apple’s cultural belief of a unified customer experience may actually be hurting it.

Mr. Gruber also states…

Apple’s strategy is correct for optimizing the quality of the user experience. Google’s strategy is correct for maximizing the number of users for its apps.

Well said.

Shared document editing is not an inherent advantage of Google Docs being web-based; native client could do it just the same.


Google and Apple are both companies; organizations that reflect a set of beliefs and stick to those beliefs until they HAVE to change.  This is what’s really at play.

Both Apple and Google are approaching the same destination, just taking different routes.  The destination is a world of hybrid software, where each application is balanced across the Web and native OS in an optimized manner.

The winner will design Products that use the unique strengths each medium in a way which maximizes the customer experience.

Further reading from Jon Gruber and at Silicon Alley Insider.

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