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February 10, 2007


Benjamin Carlyle

The line between a rich client and a browser has been diminishing in recent years and is likely to diminish further. Google maps itself can be seen as a rich client. It allows rich interaction with the map including asynchronous image loading, zooming, and panning. It doesn't simply load the images the server has made available to it and wait for the user to hit the next hyperlink.

Maps is written in javascript and hosted within the browser, but earth is hosted in the operating system. It has a higher installation cost but most access to the user's machine once installed. It has access to better graphic capabilities and makes it easier to manipulate data. These are all capabilities that maps theoretically could have, but the load time for all that javascript and other constraints get in the way. You can be sure that the browser will continue to become more competitive with desktop apps over time, just as desktop apps try to out-compete the browser.

The only likely constants in this parallel evolution are the classic tradeoffs:
* Desktop "install" versus Web "click hyperlink"
* Desktop "allow anything" verses Web "security security security"

Even some of the classics have changed forever. For example:
* Desktop "runs offline" versus web "online only"
Is on its way out on both sides.


Bernard Savonet


The border between offline and online blurs only for the people and places where hi-speed connection is available. And when displaying images, specially large detailed ones like the ones from Google Earth/Maps, that will make a huge differential.

Since we get used to the connection speed we have today, we forget what we had some years ago... and we also forget that in some countries the speed we had some years ago is not even the typical speed.

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