Six years ago, it was common to think that the future of apps lay in the browser. Most computers were anticipated to evolve into dumb terminals where the web browser would be the one window into applications. It seemed absurd to think otherwise.
But the future turned out different. In addition to the browser-based apps we anticipated, we now have a marked resurgence in 'native' apps.
What happened? Apple came out with their App Store, thereby solving the distribution problem. Previously, to download a native application, you had to hunt the web for an executable, download it, explicitly run it, then go through a series of installation steps only after which you could run the desired application.
This leads me to wonder: just as HTTP and HTML are the standard delivery and authorship standards for web apps, might we one day see analogous standards that govern native apps? Perhaps a necessary condition for this is multiple competing vendors - something that isn't true today.