An application designed by Allurent for Anthropologie, however, focuses on the offline experience. The application downloads the company’s catalog onto a user’s computer and keeps it updated when online, but it contains offline search features that Ludwig says tend to run faster on the desktop than over the Web. The user can even create offline orders that will be processed the next time the application connects to the Web.
Joshua Rand, CEO of Sapotek, the company that makes the Web-based operating system Desktop Two, says that technologies like AIR are good for cloud computing because they make it simpler for users to keep their data consistent. (See “Computer in the Cloud.”) While Web-based services such as Desktop Two allow users to access the same data from multiple machines, Rand says that he thinks it’s a significant improvement to be able to work offline, without having to take additional steps to keep the data the same. Sapotek is currently working on a version of Desktop Two that uses AIR.
Jeffrey Hammond, an analyst at Forrester Research, says that if Adobe AIR is widely adopted, he expects it to allow developers to design far more adventurous applications. “The challenge will be making the plug-in ubiquitous,” he says, noting that Adobe has largely succeeded in meeting the same challenge with Flash. Although there are products now available that have some similar features, such as Microsoft’s Silverlight and Google Gears, Hammond says that he doesn’t consider them direct competitors with AIR.
Adobe expects to release a full version of AIR in early 2008.