When the Israeli-Palestinian Webtop Ghost made its official beta launch Tuesday, it got us wondering what happened to all those other such Web desktops that have launched in recent years.
Several of them are still around. At least half a dozen are trying to prove what many doubt--that there's a market for a virtual desktop with built-in applications and widgets, plus communications and collaboration tools, all served via the browser.
Among those CNET News reached, Glide OS is now the biggest, with about 1 million users, followed by Desktoptwo with 200,000 users, Ghost with 180,000 users, Icloud with 170,000 users, Startforce with 70,000 users, and Cloudo with 30,000 users.
Though the numbers aren't overwhelming, they indicate at least some interest.
On the other hand, a couple of Webtops we've reported on, Jooce and AjaxWindows, appear to be out of commission, or at least their Web sites are. And one of the best known, You OS, called it quits last summer.
Yet those still standing believe their time is now slowly coming.
"What we've noticed in the last four months is that with virtually no media coverage, we've had a steady upsurge and it's purely viral," said Donald Leka, founder and CEO of TransMedia, which runs the Glide OS.
But Ray Valdes, research director at Gartner Research, is skeptical.
"I have not seen growth or traction among the Webtop companies over the past year," Valdes said. "From a long-term perspective, I don't see any change to current market trends, which are that Webtop ventures are not gaining market traction."
Still, investors are watching the Webtop market closely.
"We have a tremendous interest from venture capital," Leka said, underlining that TransMedia so far is wholly angel-funded. "Repeatedly we get calls on a weekly basis."
And Daniel Arthursson, CEO and founder of Icloud developer Xcerion, said his company just raised new capital from new and existing investors, including Northzone Ventures, which invested $10 million in 2007.
Though the Webtops are similar, each has its own approach.… Read more