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App-Rising.com covers the development and adoption of broadband applications, the deployment of and need for broadband networks, and the demands placed on policy to adapt to the revolutionary opportunities made possible by the Internet.

App-Rising.com is written by Geoff Daily, a DC-based technology journalist, broadband activist, marketing consultant, and Internet entrepreneur.

App-Rising.com is supported in part by AT&T;, however all views and opinions expressed herein are solely my own.

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December 21, 2007 2:49 PM

2007 Applications Review

2007 was a banner year for broadband applications, a year that saw the birth of hundreds if not thousands of new applications, a year in which the need for broadband became apparent to more people than ever.

But it was also arguably a year of unfulfilled promise, a year where the availability of broadband and interest in using it could've lead to significant societal change but didn't.

So now as we approach the last few days of this year, I thought it worthwhile to look back and consider some of the bigger trends of 2007 in the development and adoption of broadband applications.

The Facebook Application Marketplace
Facebook is far from the first company to introduce the concept of an online marketplace for applications that ties into a central platform. Salesforce.com has been going strong with this model for a while now.

But what is notable about Facebook has been the rapid success some applications have realized on their platform. We're talking about tens of thousands of users signing on to an application in a day. Applications that were created by a single guy in a basement getting bought up for multiple millions of dollars in just a few short months. And a user base that has embraced the new functionalities these applications open up.

Whether or not this new marketplace will fundamentally impact the nature of how we interact with the Internet is very much up in the air, but at a minimum their success highlights the ability of users to adopt applications en masse and the ability of the Internet to drive incredible innovation in developing services to fill this demand.

The Explosion of Hosted Productivity Apps
There's been an unbelievable upsurge in the variety and depth of applications hosted on the Internet that can supplant the functionality of many desktop applications.

Online word processors, spreadsheet creators, multimedia presentation builders, for example. But it's not just these, there are hosted apps to manage your business, your media, and your day-to-day life.

Computing in the cloud has grown up in a big, big way in '07 in terms of the possibilities available to users. Now the only challenge is getting more users to realize that those possibilities are available and to start using them. As we all begin to do so, we'll also become increasingly reliant on the always-on nature of broadband to give us access to these hosted applications whenever we need it.

Fullscreen Higher (and High) Def Video
From a pure bandwidth-gobbling perspective, fullscreen high and higher definition video has to be one of the biggest trends from 2007.

In January, YouTube quality video was still the norm. Content owners had observed that site's success with lower quality video and decided to focus moreso on the social aspects on media than the quality issues.

That has changed dramatically by the end of the year as all the major broadcast networks and many, if not most, of the cable networks have full-length shows available to watch on their websites that can deliver quality that rivals, and in some instances surpasses, that which can be watched on your TV (assuming you're still stuck in the analog world like me).

Higher quality video should lead to greater demand to watch more videos for longer periods of time, and in so doing will put a higher premium on the need for sufficient bandwidth to deliver this high bitrate video.

Videocalling Use in Media
The use of videocalling seems to still be a ways off from mainstream adoption, but there was one area in which its use cannot be ignored: in the media.

Over the last year I've seen MTV use it to talk with at-home viewers on live TV, at the Video on the Net conference a panelist dialed in remotely rather than being there physically, on the New York Times website they've got a new featured called Bloggingheads which features people discussing a variety of issues through recorded videocalls, and on blogs like App-Rising.com.

Live two-way video has a long ways to go, but in 2007 it started to get some real traction. And as upload capacities in broadband networks increase, the viability of these applications will increase in kind.

Limitless Choice, Limited Audience
The overarching trend I saw in 2007 with regards to broadband applications is the gap that still exists between the explosive growth in the maturity and diversity of things to do with broadband and the amount these opportunities are--or rather, are not--being used.

You can do so much more with broadband today than you could last year, but are we really doing all that much more?

For the most part, the broadband revolution is still happening only in pockets, not across all of American society. But I'm holding out hope that 2008 will bring a new day in this arena, as topics related to broadband have been elevated to front page news, many network operators are beginning to realize the best thing for their business is to have as many people buying and using their services as possible, and there's a growing number of grassroots organizations and initiatives aimed at educating and inspiring the public about the use of broadband.

2007 has been a banner year for broadband, but we're still only experiencing the earliest days in terms of the impact this revolution in the way we communicate will have in the long run. We're more reliant on broadband than ever, but not nearly as reliant as we're (hopefully) going to be in the not too distant future.


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