Rethinking Desktop Apps

Startup TransMedia offers a dozen online consumer-media applications that could change the software game
Glide's applications are designed to promote viral marketing through drag-and-drop sharing. Shared 30-second streaming song snippets include a "Buy Now" button for the purchase of officially sanctioned song files from participating content providers. Leka says his company plans to introduce a service in December geared toward bringing independent artists into the system.

Glide is able to share files securely because the actual files aren't shared. Rather, the act of sharing creates streaming browser-based preview files that are transcoded for universal compatibility. This neatly avoids the risk of piracy.

Initially, products available through Glide's E-commerce system will include music, ring tones, chocolate, photo prints, and personalized products. Options are likely to expand as developers avail themselves of the Glide software developers' kit and partners build on it.

Whether Glide can break Apple's music monopoly remains to be seen. As it's designed to work, the software should integrate with Apple's iPod as well as it can without the company's cooperation.

While Glide is aimed at consumers, it could see significant adoption inside corporate firewalls, assuming it works as advertised. The suite's communication and collaboration tools, which work on a variety of devices and in a variety of locations, appear to be well-suited for dispersed workgroup interaction, particularly in light of the built-in access controls and ease of use. Drag-and-drop conferencing and presentation sharing could well wean users from WebEx. And there's no installation required, which is sure to please IT managers.

TransMedia has a lot to prove, but if its software works as well in the wild as it did during demos, the impact could be significant. First, Glide might make Linux PCs viable for technically unsophisticated users. Second, software service providers might face reinvigorated competition from cable and telecom providers that suddenly have something to offer beyond increasingly commoditized network bandwidth. Finally, widespread adoption of Glide could further erode the value of Microsoft's desktop dominance.

Editor's Choice
Cynthia Harvey, Freelance Journalist, InformationWeek
John Edwards, Technology Journalist & Author
Sara Peters, Editor-in-Chief, InformationWeek / Network Computing