We’ve just completed some research with the web and digital agencies that Microsoft is working with in the UK – the headline news from the report is that 73% of participants believe that 2007 will see a significant increase in client demand for Rich Interactive Applications or RIAs.
In fact, from the responses provided, participants expected RIA to be the most significant new type of client offering this year. This is a great news – after what seems a long time coming there are now a number factors which indicate that 2007 will be the year of the RIA:
- web and digital agencies are seeing increased client awareness about the need to differentiate through user experience
- broad consumer and business audience awareness as to what constitutes a good computing experience is increasing as users are exposed to Vista and Office 2007
- a choice of application form-factors (or delivery mechanisms) now exist – browser, gadget, lightweight desktop, full desktop - one or more of which can be leveraged based upon the identified user requirements
- there is a choice of tools, technologies and runtimes from Microsoft, Adobe and others which designers and developers can leverage to deliver upon the promise of RIA
From a Microsoft perspective, some parts of the RIA picture are well defined now (WPF, Vista Gadgets), some are nearing completion (e.g. Expression Blend) and others (WPF/E included) are currently a work in progress – throughout this year though all the parts will come together to provide a comprehensive platform for delivering Rich Interactive Applications.
Whilst on this topic, one thing to note here is my use of the word Interactive, in the term RIA. There’s been some discussion over on Ryan Stewart’s blog about whether the often-used Rich Internet Application still conveys the right message. Ryan notes “The term does seem kind of odd in today’s world. Are there really any applications that aren’t connected to the internet? The term Rich Internet Application was coined way back in March of 2002, long before broadband was a realistic possibility for many people and before the web had really transformed everything.”
Microsoft, Ovum and others are referring to RIA to mean Rich Interactive, rather than Internet, Applications – the change representing a subtle, but important, difference which highlights the impact that interaction has on the usability, productivity, effectiveness, flexibility and relevance of an application. In addition, by removing specific reference to the internet, it recognises that the internet is now a fundamental part of today’s applications.
Bola Rotibi from Ovum defines Rich Interactive Applications as “applications that combine the light touch and ubiquity of a web application with the interactivity and functionality of a desktop application, and offer a consistent and effective user experience, both online and offline across a variety of devices and networks.” The report is definately worth a read – if you haven’t got an Ovum subscription you can purchase it here.
I’d be interested in your comments on the term RIA, what it means to you and whether you’re also expecting to see increased demand for RIAs this year.
We’re going to share the full report and analysis with those who participated in the research in a couple of weeks time at an event we’re running for web and digital agencies. If you’d like to receive a copy of the report in due course please contact me.
Posted by: Andrew Shorten