George Colony, Forrester Research's CEO, predicts the end of both traditional desktop and web applications. Those models would be replaced by App Internet applications. I agree totally with him, and moreover we can already say that App Internet applications are the present. The question is actually not to predict if App Internet applications will be the future, but on which basis these applications will be built.
What are App Internet applications finally? They are applications which merge different technics and which have in common to gather information from different source through internet in order to perform what they are built for. App Internet applications are kind of desktop applications which have to be connected to every kind of internet information in order to work properly (even if the off-line mode may offer the user to use the application when no connection is available...but for a short amount of time). AIR from adobe, Silverlight, JavaFX/Java, ..., are attempts today to achieve those goals. It is a first step. In my opinion, the future will be a combination of technologies like :
- HTML/CSS/JS (handwriten or generated)for the rendering, the gui
- a container enabling the GUI to interact with with the underlying system (java/javafx2, dotNet, phonegap, ...)
- REST or Web services API for communicating between App Internet Applications or between App Internet Applications and cloud oriented services (the ones from Google for instance)
- distributed storage like the one provided by Amazon or Google
We already started in my company to architecture our apps with the kind of material. We easily mix pure web applications with desktop applications through an internet bus based upon restlets. We merge also javafx and web, swt with web, and so on...
It is up to now a little bit empirical, but the overall pattern arise step by step...