Monday, January 19, 2009

We need to kill browser plugins - or move them to the cloud

Louis Gray asks an interesting question in a post on his blog: "Is requiring a Plug-in akin to designing for IE Only?" Like Louis, I use the Safari browser for a lot of my browsing, which doesn't support plug-ins. The rise in popularity of Plug-ins for Firefox has occurred at the same time as the rapid adoption of the iPhone.

The iPhone is in the vanguard of mobile internet use. This trend will continue with the introduction of Android phones and the continued popularity of the Blackberry. The Mozilla foundation is working on a mobile version of Firefox but this is not a real solution. Mobile phones are not the only way we access the Internet. Games consoles and Internet Tablets, like the Nokia N810 are also entering the mix.

I believe that the future lies with developers creating cloud-based functionality that can be activated from a bookmark. Examples of this already exist with bookmarklets from services like delicious and The advantage of the bookmarklet is that it can be designed to be browser-platform independent and can also deliver functionality to mobile devices.

1 comment:

  1. Here is my first thought: By requiring a user to add anything to my browser/OS/etc you are limiting your potential market and showing a certain arrogance that your product/service/application is that good I should go through that extra effort.

    (I actually ran into this just the other day compiling various jabber server implementations, you need to install X or Y before you can compile our server)

    Second though: in some cases installing new tools helps to make a market place for new and interesting things. For example by having people install Flash, video services like YouTube and others have been enabled to start, grow and prosper.

    Conclusion: If you are making me install some dependency for your application/website/service make it easy and painless and explain why.