It’s been a shift years in the making but 2012 finally felt like the year the tide shifted against desktop apps towards mobile ones:
2012 has been a rough year for desktop clients. The promise of mobile, a brand-new multibillion-dollar app industry where consumers actually pay for apps and new millionaires are minted on a regular basis, has drawn scores of developers away from the hairy, disorganized world of traditional desktop apps and software licensing. The Mac App Store and the Windows Store (in Windows 8) are burgeoning not with a vibrant selection of alternatives to core OS apps but with small utilities, games, and single-purpose apps. They’re stocked like mobile app stores, not collections of traditional desktop apps.
Gmail, Facebook, and Twitter have been beckoning their users back to web interfaces or mobile apps, and we have obliged. That mobile apps and web apps are the future has been taken as conventional wisdom since 2009 if not earlier; only now, however, is this shift wreaking the havoc it promised.
I was trying to think of a list of honest-to-god desktop apps I still use or feel are a necessity and the only I can come up with is iTunes, but even then my use of it is starting to wane. If you have a laptop or desktop computer and don’t do heavy video or photo editing or development work of any kind then you really only need a web browser.
Put in those terms it makes Chrome OS seem like the desktop OS of the future.