Reuters and the New York Times on RIAs

The New York Times web site posted a Reuters article titled “Olympics Set The Stage For Emerging Web Tech Fight” about how Microsoft’s Silverlight is competing with Adobe’s Flash to become a major platform for both Web video and Rich Internet Applications (RIAs).

As the article characterizes it, “Microsoft’s Silverlight technology and rival Adobe’s Flash format are currently locked in a race over who delivers the world’s online video, but the ultimate prize may be who powers the next generation of Web software.”

The piece doesn’t offer much that is new, although there are a few interesting statistics to ponder, such as the following:

Microsoft, which said nearly half the visitors to NBC’s site did not have Silverlight, plans to expand its reach to close the gap on Flash, which is already running on most of the world’s Web-connected computers and powers over 80 percent of the video on the Internet.

It’s a bit unclear what the first number means. Did half the visitors to NBCOlympics.com initially not have Silverlight, or did half the visitors never install Silverlight, or — as I suspect — were half the sessions (rather than visitors) from browsers without Silverlight? The latter seems the most plausible. If so, it tells us very little about the penetration of Silverlight — even among visitors to NBCOlympics.com — since those with Silverlight likely returned to the site much more often than those without.

There’s also this startling assessment of RIA penetration in large corporations:

Gartner analyst Ray Valdes said 90 percent of the top global 1,000 companies have yet to deploy any sort of RIA, while 90 percent of the top 100 consumer Web sites have already done so using the nonproprietary and more simple AJAX format.

Is this an accurate figure or a merely a clever hyperbole to make the point that RIAs are more popular on the commercial Web than on corporate sites? If simply using AJAX qualifies as having “deployed an RIA” of some sort (which, while dubious, seems to be the assumption here), is it true that only 10 percent of the global 1,000 have used AJAX? Surprising, if so. 

This would, of course, also mean there is a great deal of potential upside in this market for Adobe and Microsoft if RIA adoption among businesses is, in fact, still this nascent.

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