Today Adobe unveiled the alpha release of Apollo which Adobe’s Mike Downey describes as a “cross operating system runtime that allows users to install desktop applications built using web technologies such as HTML, JavaScript and Flash.” In layman’s terms, Apollo enables web developers to create applications for your computer using the web technology they already know and work in.

Mike Downey provided a glimpse of what the Apollo system could do using a demo created for/by eBay. The eBay demo provided an impressive glimpse of a desktop application simply installed from eBay and then operated in a slick interface on the desktop; just like any other program installed on a computer. What I was most impressed with was the offline capabilities built into the program; the runtime works autonomously from the Internet if you happen to be without an Internet connection. Obviously there are limitations without a connection but you can setup new products to sell, totally configure them, and even take photos of the products directly from within the program with a webcam. When the computer reconnects, the system automatically synchronizes with eBay and voila, your new products for sale are online.

So what are the implications of such a system? Well the fact that applications can be developed from HTML, JavaScript and Flash is extremely alluring. After all, as an amateur web designer I know I would rather not learn yet another web programming language. That said, I am mostly curious how Apollo would offer any benefit to someone designing a website using less complex technologies (Adobe Flex is no walk in the park). If Apollo can promise ease of creation, implementation and maintenance I think it will be a rocket ship. It is extra impressive to me that it maintains the general integrity of the Internet by being cross platform.

What Impact Might Apollo Have on Online Marketing?
This is my loaded question of the day because Apollo will conceivably extend interactive marketing Internet to both the online and offline desktop which opens a variety of doors. Here are a couple of off-the-cuff concepts:

1) Offline Advertising?
What if Google could now provide advertising to offline desktops? Obviously users would not be able to visit websites due to their offline status but perhaps clicking on Adsense/Adwords advertisements would then make the clicked ads appear again (in click order) in a bolder fashion once the user when online. To mitigate fraud the advertiser that ultimately had a clickthrough would be the only one to pay for the extra offline visibility; perhaps via an additional percentage of their click fee. I am not sure how feasible this strategy would be, but I am sure better minds than mine are seriously thinking this one through.

2) Say Hello to Ad-Supported Everyday Computer Applications
Apollo opens the door to a simpler environment for providing everyday office and personal computer applications. First of all consider that it is cross-platform, enabling the creation of a single easy-to-install application for Mac and PC. Using a single application, a developer could offer a free, powerful toolset such as an image editing/management program supported by the subtle use of text ads, recommended for-fee plugins, in-window image editing tutorials supported by commercials… etc.

3) Knowledge Bases
You know when you get a new computer product that comes with one flimsy manual that essentially tells you to go online and use the manufacturer’s troubleshooting site? That can be annoying but the capabilities of Apollo would render this need obsolete. You may still have to visit a website but only once to download a troubleshooting application. The application could download all of the latest information on your product and store it on your computer for future need OR just keep the help files that seem to respond closely to the issue you are currently having. In each case the tool would allow you to access troubleshooting information in an offline environment; after all, in my experience device issues often occur at the most inopportune times. So what is the marketing angle? The manufacturer could easily post the latest news on next generation products or even allow partners to pitch compatible wares.

Until Later…
I guess you can tell I am impressed. Yes, my mind is afire with ideas; something that usually happens when there is a new technology on the block. Especially a technology that appears to leverage existing technologies versus requiring a massive new learning curve. I don’t know how Apollo will be received over the next few months but I expect many online giants will be jumping on this bandwagon soon once they realize the potential it offers. That is unless a competitor is set to launch a competing product any day now (Microsoft… are you listening?).

Some Notable Benefits of Apollo in Short Form

  • Apollo provides developers with an immense amount of control over their applications since they control the content on the machine of every user.
  • Content is updated/update-able on every reconnection to the Internet.
  • Online advertisers now have an open door to the offline computer user.
  • Installation is simple – at least according to the one demo seen so far 😉
  • Apollo applications are cross-platform.
  • Applications offer instant updates and notifications: I expect news agencies will be all over this.

Questions I Have About Apollo
I wonder if…

  • there are any requirements for cross-platform compliance?
  • Adobe can publicly state that any search engines have taken an interest in this software yet. Better yet, have any search engines begun creating an application?
  • there are any impressive web applications Adobe can demo that utilizes simple JavaScript and HTML? Or is Apollo really only worthwhile for the programming minded?
  • has advertising been incorporated yet in any Apollo application? I would love to see the first introduction of ads in this product. Let us just hope it is more creative than a banner.
by Ross Dunn, CEO, StepForth SEO Services
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