When the “always on” social network Velvet Puffin first launched, it seemed like a tough sell for users. They tied together the web, desktop, and mobile phone interfaces into one social network accessible anywhere, but you had to download a desktop and mobile application to do so.
Velvet Puffin is back and has shed one of the desktop downloads while keeping a presence on the desktop. However, they didn’t use one of the rich internet platforms (Adobe AIR or Silverlight) to do it. Instead, they’ve created a “quick launch” version that allows you to easily access their social networking/chat application on any system with desktop functionality. They’re using a combination of a java applet, Flash, and C++ programming to quickly launch their chat and content sharing application outside of the browser. How they are being used is a bit of a secret sauce, but Founder and CEO Chandrasekar Rathakrishnan says the java is used to ensure security integrity before session is established, Flash for the application, and C++ for maintaining the connection.
Now when you log in, the social networking program launches in its own window, providing the full functionality of the downloaded app. You can even upload photos to your account by dragging them on to the application. As we described during their launch, you can use the client to chat, blog, and share photos and videos. The chat application interacts with Yahoo, GTalk, AIM, MSN, and ICQ. It also sends messaging updates and grabs a spot on your system tray. A chat application like this really benefits from being on the desktop since you can still receive updates while your browser is out of focus. However, the first time you sign on, you do have the annoying chore of giving the java applet permission to run.
Velvet Puffin decided to take this “un-web 2.0” route instead of siding with AIR or Silverlight because they utilize technologies already on people’s systems. We still have yet to see what platform decisions a lot of sites are making as they merge from the web to the desktop. Pownce and eBay have already sided with AIR. Silverlight is still waiting on some big applications like Popfly to come out of beta.