Apollo is the result of integrating a number of threads of work that have been many years in the making. First, there is the evolution of the Flash player away from being an app to becoming a rich experience platform. Flash recently turned 10. (Cool video of the celebration courtesy of Mike Chambers’s blog.) Five years into its life, following the Allaire/Macromedia merger, Flash started evolving away from being a just media player. Second, there is the deeper integration of Flash into the host OS. For example, you can install Flash apps on a computer and embed a browser inside Flash, blurring the line between Web and desktop software. Finally, there is Central, which ultimately should tie into Apollo.
I’m happy Adobe has finally gotten to this point. Back in 2001 I helped create Flex and wrote internal Macromedia whitepapers on deeper Flash/desktop integration. Flex took some time to fully figure out its model. The Flash/desktop integration was both difficult from a technical standpoint but also complex to buy into from a strategy standpoint. Central didn’t have much success initially, though the concept is strong. With all these things coming together in the near future, I expect to see compelling applications and a gradual erosion of the distinction between Web and desktop apps.