Mashups (web apps combining data from several sources into a single context) have long been one of the catch phrases of the Web 2.0 phenomenon. Now they may be coming into a desktop near you, courtesy of Adobe — and, no doubt, other companies soon thereafter.

Enterprise mashup companies have been heavily  funded and hyped, but the key players have mainly been new, small companies such as Serena Software, JackBe or Denodo — not exactly household names.

However, the upcoming beta release of Adobe Genesis is about to change this. Not only is a big, established player entering the fray, but Adobe is changing the mashup game by moving it from the web to the desktop. Genesis centers around the concept of a client-based workspace that unifies several data sources and/or applications into a single environment. To get an idea of what Genesis can do, think of a portal that you put together on your desktop using web data, web apps, desktop data, and desktop apps.

The skeptic can say that Genesis is simply the old idea of containers (anyone remember Apple’s ill-fated OpenDoc?) repackaged and reheated. That statement may not be altogether incorrect — but technology has developed far enough to make the idea feasible.

It is still too early to say whether Genesis will be a success or yet another unsuccessful technology demonstrator, but it is certainly intriguing and certainly gives a glimpse of the future of client-side computing..