I’ve talked about the Application Service Provider (ASP) model in a previous post. When I say ASP model I mean not running the application or keeping my data on my computer but instead letting the application company host the application so that all I have to do it access the application and my data through a browser. As I said I really like the advantages of storing my data on the web. I don’t have to do backups and it is accessible. In a recent posting John Montgomery of Microsoft talked about why we continue to use ASP applications when the user interfaces and functionality aren’t as good as those for the applications hosted on our own machines. I think his reasons are valid although I never think about the technology catching up. For me the advantage of being able to access my data from any browser and having someone else host my application so that I don’t have to be a system administrator is incentive enough. And in a lot of cases I think the applications are as good or better.
I mentioned Plaxo in my earlier post. I recently sent out an update with my new email address and phone number to everyone in my address book. It has been so much fun to get updates from all my friends and catch up on what they are up to. Plaxo provides functionality that I’ve never had on a locally based application.
Another ASP based application that I have been very impressed with in the short time that I have been aware of it is Right Now. It is customer support software that is used by Intuit for Quicken Medical Expense Manager and for Quicken Rental Property Manager. Right Now provides an easy way to manage and update common questions and answers and the customer support user interface.
Another very successful ASP model software package is QuickBooks Online Edition. In this case although the functionality is less than the desktop version I suspect that the quality of the application, the fact that the user doesn’t have to administer his or her system, and the ability to access the application from anywhere have led to the success of the product. I should note that although I work at Intuit I don’t work in the QuickBooks organization and my observations are very much those of an outsider.
Bottom line is that while some applications are still better on the desktop than being run through a browser there are many other applications that I would much rather run through the web.