In recent years, there’s been an obvious shift away from standalone or shrink-wrap applications – more and more, people use the web to do tasks previously done on their PC.
There are a good number of reasons for this trend:
- Eliminating installed software reduces support costs.
- Online systems generally don’t have a piracy problem – something that has dogged the shrink-wrap market for years.
- Marketing to customers of online systems is much easier – with downloadable products, it’s much harder to connect sales back to marketing activity.
However, online isn’t necessarily a panacea – creating an online product is not suited to all applications, and it’s generally more expensive:
The tools and technologies used for creating rich internet applications are currently quite weak, making development more expensive – although Silverlight promises to change this.
If you provide your product online, you’re paying for the server costs for all your users – for a million-user application, these can be quite serious.
The pace of evolution of web technologies means that development investment can easily be wasted – if you choose the wrong technology platform, you might find there are no developers available to support it in three years’ time.
These issues make it essential to plan any online product development carefully – and to talk to people who have real experience of the issues – people like Shaimaa Networks.