Picnik is an excellent application that makes believers out of RIA skeptics made with Flash/Flex. Today Picnik is now integrated with Flickr bringing user friendly photoshop essentially to the masses.
This is a pretty interesting market direction as more photo companies like photobucket and flickr add to the competition for photo editing. As flash based uploads, photo editors, word processors, presentation creators, conference systems, office apps, planning apps and many others all over the web does this mean the services model is really here and RIA is not just a fad?
The model of software is changing, again. The one competitive edge that web applications, and specifically RIA apps have over desktop is that many desktop apps are bloated, have legacy evolution that caused heavy, busy interfaces and absolutely no abstraction of the possible user level in many cases. Web applications are for a broad audience so these applications will see many benefits in making simplified versions of applications for lower skilled users, and then for advanced users more features.
The model is entirely different. They also have the ability to embed in sites like flickr, photobucket, social networks, office product offerings, small business servers, etc. They could even compete on these sites. The install base will not be millions of client computers but networks and clusters of users at online places and services.
This was a dream with ASP applications and software as a service. The problem was before RIA some of the limits of the web were preventing web apps from overtaking and beating out the features of desktop apps. RIAs and the web, web services, user controlled environments are changing the way software is used. is We aren’t entirely there yet but RIAs are reviewing their schematics, late at night, and are slowly taking over the software world and changing the model. Like a ninja is Picnik.
Regarding Picnik, I can’t say enough about the simplicity, clean design that they have pulled off here. The website and application have an identical brand. The application is extremely responsive and acts like html sites would when it comes to text and forms. The integration of services, webcam, all filters in flash, on and on. They really have a great team and it seems like they are both a great product team but also have the right quality. The new market is extremely agile, the paradigm is shifting.