It wasn’t that long ago that building an application targeted at broad consumer market didn’t involve many difficult choices. You built either a Windows application or a Web application. If you wanted a disconnected experience, Windows owned virtually the entire connected consumer story so they only decisions that you needed to make were about language, IDE, methodology, etc.
Those were the days.
For some time I’ve considered building a sporting community based business. I’ve been giving it more serious though lately and realizing that changes in the computing technology landscape have made selecting strategy for such a business / application a complex thought process.
As we evolved the ASP.NET web site, we were concerned with scale and performance, and with features and content, but we had the luxury of a pretty targeted audience.
Building a community experience for a broad audience is more complex especially if you want your strategy to include a rich disconnected experience.
Yes, yes, I know about HTML5, and it is promising, but not just yet. What it will ultimately delivers is yet to be determined.
Windows still owns the large majority of desktop market share but the Mac is now statistically significant Mac users cannot be ignored by business’s who seek to engage the largest possible customer audience.
There is no really GOOD solution for developing a desktop application with a single source code base that runs on both Windows and the Mac, and then there is Linux.
There are some choices.
Adobe AIR runs on both Windows and Mac as does Microsoft’s Silverlight but Adobe recently discontinued Linux support which makes AIR’s future a question mark and Silverlight has never run on Linux. Silverlight’s future on the Mac is also a question mark and Novell’s discontinuation of the Mono team adds additional variables.
There is Java, which seems to be enjoying a bit of renewed growth recently, probably as the result of the popularity of Android.
Which, of course, brings us to an even bigger issue: internet users are not necessarily PC users any more. “Mobile” devices represent a slight majority of internet users and that percentage is rapidly growing.