But what does a shelf's worth of Michael Crichton in your pocket have to do with the enterprise? Not unlike the path to adoption taken by many devices permeating today's mobile enterprise, the e-book's "proof of concept" phase will play out on the consumer stage. And it may just be copyright protection and distribution -- rather than any paper vs. LCD debate -- that determines the technology's long-term prospects.
"Another issue, besides the prohibitive cost and cumbersome nature of e-documents, concerns the vast portion of the contracts that were signed and agreed upon before e-books came onto the scene,says litigation lawyer Esther Lim, a partner at Finnegan Henderson. "That raises questions not just in terms of what rights the user has, but what rights the publisher has vis-a-vis the copyright holder."
If these issues aren't resolved, the e-book market may fail to attract the kind of vendor investment necessary to overcome the technology's lingering cost and usability concerns.
So, until e-books have their day in court, the jury remains out on their viability for the enterprise.
-- Richard Gincel
8. Desktop Web applications
Flash apps started out as rudimentary games with lackluster input methods and a cartoonlike look and feel. More and more, however, they resemble native apps. Take Gliffy, for instance -- a very attractive, stable Flash app that drives like Microsoft Visio, providing full diagramming capabilities in the browser with nothing more than Flash 7 required on the client side.
These projects, and others popping up all over the Net, represent the next step in Web app delivery, one that will break free of the HTML form and into interfaces that resemble fat apps. Vendors such as Scalent are already writing their UIs in Flash -- and are reaping the benefits of a simpler deployment, arguably greater cross-platform support than Java, and a more seamless, attractive user experience to boot.
As the options diversify and improve, it's a safe bet that Web-based desktop apps will reshape the enterprise soon.
-- Paul Venezia
9. Project Blackbox
A portable datacenter may seem like pie in the sky, but in fact, Sun Microsystems has already constructed it. Whether Project Blackbox, which Sun calls the first virtualized datacenter, catches on remains to be seen, but for some, the concept is compelling.