Knownow raises $15 m more in funding. — Much of what Knownow does can be done via UserLand's Radio. The approach is a little different. Knownow is a centralized solution. It keeps a connection open between a browser and a central Website so data can be pushed and pulled (Microsoft has a varient of this for ASP). With UserLand's Radio, the Website is on the destkop. Data and application logic is stored there. Information can be pushed and pulled from a variety of centralized systems, Radio isn't tied to just one system as it is with Knownow. Both offer real-time functionality. Both offer two-way interaction. Both can support complex functionality for collaborative commerce. Etc.
In my view, the decentalized UserLand approach is better. Why? It scales better. One of the things we learned from the Web experience is that centralized systems cost a lot to build and maintain. A decentralized system uses the desktop PC to run the Web application thereby radically reducing costs. Also, given Radio's ability to connect to multiple services within the same application (XML-RPC or SOAP services), there isn't a need for an expensive centralized routing system.
For example. Say I want to build a Web application that allows 7,000 stores to request products from a centalized distribution facility and share products with each other to balance inventory among the stores. Using Knownow's approach, I would build a huge Sun-driven centralized Webapp – build a monster Oracle database – buy Knownow's router – and find a hosting location. Using UserLand's approach, I would build a desktop Webapp – and connect up these distributed apps directly to back-end systems (potentially in a variety of locations) and to each other using P2P. The difference in costs: 10 to 1.
This difference in cost becomes particularly acute when consumers are involved. Imagine the difference in costs between a decentralized Web application and a centralized one that had 10 m users. Wow. Here is a little secret: the reason so many content providers and e-commerce ventures failed a year ago wasn't because people didn't use their service or they weren't able to generate revenue. Rather, it was because the costs of their centralized systems swamped them. Let's not repeat the failure. [John Robb's Radio Weblog]