The Rise of the Super-App

With advent of web-based digital image editing, productivity suites and more, has the browser become the only piece of software you'll ever need to download? Or does webware still have more to prove?

Is this the last app you\'ll ever need?

Last week saw the release of Flock 1.0 beta, a Firefox engine that's been built out with extensive social-networking tools. Is it a flash in the pan, taking advantage of the latest fads, or does it herald a sea change in top-tier open source software? The changes from Firefox to Flock are hardly the work of one extension. The new sidebar includes features that let users add photos to their Flickr account by dragging and dropping, creating new posts to their self-published blog on the fly, and much more.

We've mentioned the growing number of specialized browsers. Firefox leads the pack with six different flavors: the Campus Edition, eBay, SongBi rd, Camino a> for Macs, and Netscape Navigator 9. Of course, there's Opera, which is moving fast into the mobile and game-console markets, and A vant, for those looking for an IE experience without feeling dirty about it.

With the advent of Google Docs, you can pretty much live in your browser and never leave. Image editors have gone online and free, too. Lightroom and Photoshop Express from Adobe and Aperture from Apple have made professional-level online editing a reality. Rsizr offers speed over features, and then there's the plethora of Web-based e-mail clients. E-mail, image editing, productivity programs, and socializing--it looks to me like the only killer app you still need is a Web browser.

What do you think, though? Are people ready to give up their software? Or does Webware still have much to prove?