The Future of Web Apps - Day One

We're here at the Future of Web Apps (FOWA) conference in London, and the great and the good of Silicon Valley have set up camp in Docklands for the next three days. Plus some Brits have turned up for good measure.

As you'd expect from the name, there's a entrepreneurial spirit in the air. There's a heady mix of old school tech (Sun, Microsoft, Adobe), recent web app success (Digg, Facebook, Flickr) and too many unknown hopefuls to count. Plus the VCs and industry bloggers are in the house. All the start-ups want to know how to make their app a success.

They've kicked things off with what may be the eventual highlight. Om Malik, venerable blogger and founder of the Giga Om blog, is on stage being interviewed with Michael Arrington, founder of TechCrunch. It was a fairly relaxed chat, the salient points being:

We're seeing too many people entering the same space too quickly. Last year it was personalisable ajax home pages. This year, office app clones (people still aren't using them and the market is saturated) and social networking. All of them lose, except the early front runners.

How can web developers protect themselves from creating something on a platform and then the platform owners e.g. Facebook change their mind? If it's that good, go to the platform owners and ask them for support - if you take their money they're less likely to be competitive with you. But if you're a developer perhaps consider not putting all your eggs in that risky basket. Valid point: there are no killer Facebook applications yet. Why not?

What's the biggest gap in the web2.0 market? Om Malik says: Enterprise. Where are the widgets? For example, where is the widget which plugs into the Salesforce API, with the widget appearing on iGoogle or Dashboard? Michael Arrington says: iPhone development, more and more people will start using mobile devices above desktop devices. Only takes a couple of weeks to put together something useful. If you're going to fail, fail quickly and cheaply and move on.

Where will Facebook be in a year's time? Arrington: in the process of going public. Malik: facing all sorts of legal issues...

More from the floor later.


Andy said…
I am there vicariously. Interesting point about only those concepts which are launched 'early' succeed since Facebook started to get traffic 2 years or so after Myspace, and Facebook has managed to catch up. Isnt 2 years like 20 dog years in the web or something? And isnt it the case that Facebook's superior functionality and experience has made it a success in an area where MySpace was already very dominant? I personally think that there are ways to enter a market eg social networking that has existing established competition and if the proposition and functionality offer something different then clearly you can be successful.
Phil Whitehouse said…
I think Facebook is an interesting case study. If you enter a game late, you can win so long as you're offering something incredibly compelling. But with social networking, now that Facebook and Bebo have gone truly mainstream, the market is much more saturated than it was with just MySpace. The chances of success are much lower. And in my humble opinion the only crowd that can knock Facebook off their pedestal is Google.

My view on this is here:
Phil Whitehouse said…
TinyURL link to that page (which won't wrap):