Today Michael Arrington covers Apollo, the Adobe runtime which supports web applications on the desktop, on both TechCrunch and in an interview with Kevin Lynch on TalkCrunch. The coverage spawned a number of reactions on the web and a top position on Techmeme. While Apollo is not released yet the interest is positive and people like Alex Barnett, Ryan Stewart and Amy Bellinger predict that 2007 will be the year of Rich Internet Applications.
While the initial focus of Apollo sample apps is very consumer oriented (e.g. E-Bay client or MP3 Player) I have been contemplating for the last year how Apollo could be used as a Rich Client for Enterprise Applications. I had a number of good discussions with various people from SAP as well as SAP customers. The key capabilities enterprise users are looking for are usability, performance, offline abilities and desktop application integration. I presented my thoughts for the first time in May at the Americas SAP User Group Conference in Orlando.
Back in May the interest was fairly limited but some early adopters realized the potential impact Apollo could have on the way we interact with enterprise applications. Since then the interest has significantly increased, especially since Shai Agassi discussed SAP’s project Muse at SAPPHIRE.
Here are some use cases for Apollo:
– CRM client for Account Managers with offline support
– Client for Employee and Manager Self Services
– Dedicated client for Support Staff and Field Services (see also the recording of the SAP Flex Demo)
– Enterprise Performance Analytics Widgets
I predict that significant adoption of Rich Clients in the enterprise will follow about two years after the adoption for consumer apps. IT departments tend to be conservative and there are still a number of difficult issues to solve, incl. the security of offline content and local system access. Also the synchronization between online and offline usage is a challenging topic and it will be critical to figure out which information is stored for offline usage for a particular user.
Mike Chambers has a link to a 10 minute video interview / discussion with Christian Cantrell of the Apollo team on his Blog.
For ongoing news about RIAs and Adobe Apollo see RIApedia, the new Blog from Mike potter (Developer Relations at Adobe) and check out this cool yourminis app.