Why I’m Done Making Desktop Applications

Ajaxian » Front Page • by Dion Almaer

Patrick Mckenzie has written an interesting editorial comparing his life as a desktop developer and a Web one.

He talks about an application that he has traditionally sold as a desktop app, and how it is faring on the Web. Bingo Card Creator is the application in question, and he has strong opinions 🙂

Over roughly the same period my day job has changed and transitioned me from writing thick clients in Swing to big freaking enterprise web apps. I’ve learned SQL, Rails, etc and used them to fairly decent effect in selling Bingo Card Creator, which is a Swing app (if all you have is a hammer…). This summer, I decided to try stepping my web programming skills up a notch, and released a web version of Bingo Card Creator. It has exceeded all my expectations: in ease of writing, in features, in sales, in support burden, in marketability, etc. In game theory terms, it strictly dominates the desktop version, when seen from the eyes of the developer at any rate.

If I were starting out today, I would, without a shadow of a doubt, write a web app instead of a desktop app, for these reasons:

  • The Shareware Funnel Is Lethal
  • Web Applications Convert Better
  • Your AdWords Strategy Is Very Sensitive To Conversion Rates
  • Web Applications Are Easier To Support
  • The Age Of The Pirates Is Coming An End, Jack
  • Phone Home vs. Google Analytics
  • Web Apps Can Be Customized Per User

Interesting to read. Note, Patrick does admit that he much prefers desktop apps in general (e.g. Excel > Google Docs).

We are all so into the Web, that we are often very critical. Web apps are too hard to build. They are too hard to monetize. However, the grass isn’t always greener on the other side, and this shows you how brown it can be.

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