KDE-Look.org, once a fairly vibrant and active contributory site, has become a virtual ghost town. Perhaps the same might be said for its GNOME-look.org counterpart, which I honestly don't know since, as a KDE user, I rarely have the need visit GNOME anything. Perhaps that will change.
Various core KDE components and features are quite broken and have been so for some time. One simple and frustrating example is Recent Items (aka Application Launcher History), which works only on occasion with no clear rhyme or reason as to why. KDEPIM/KMail frankly seems targeted specifically at the poweruser, maintaining over many years its rather plain and arguably retro interface. The Konqueror web browser has been a virtual carcus for several years, yet it mysteriously remains an integral component. I honestly wonder if even a single KDE user uses it over any of the other popular browsers. The KDE theming engine seems disjoint and rather non-intuitive. The default Application Launcher and Task Manager widgets are also starting to feel quite old and stale as well.
Now, having said all that, I confess that I continue to use KDE exclusively and have no major functional issues with it. It does serve my needs from a practical perspective. But I can't help but feel like I do when I'm cruising accross town in my 12 year old Chevy truck, feature rich for its time, which I keep for similarly practical reasons. Solid and reliable, but definitely starting to fade and certainly lacking some modern creature comforts.
I do recognize that Desktop development has largely been sidelined by the more sexy and lucrative mobile platform development. However, the Desktop is certainly here to stay for the foreseeable future and users really are paying attention to its evolution — as seemingly evidenced by the gleeful adoption of Windows 10, which arguably has quite an impressively polished user interface (finally). And I say that as a religiously staunch and loyal opponent to virtualy anything coming out of Redmond (rationality notwithstanding).
I've thought for many years that what the Linux desktop (and for that matter open source in general) fundamentally lacks is basic curb appeal. Developers must be willing to accept that the larger user community actually does prefer form over function and then develop accordingly. We're drawn to what looks and smells good. Substance is secondary as unfortunate as that may seem. Ignoring this, however technically principled, I feel has innevitably led to the questionable demise I'm rasing here.
So, back to my opening question... Is KDE Dying? Has innovation and development evaporated in a development world dominated by the mobile device? And, if so, can it be reinvogorated? Will the pendulum ever swing back? Can it? Should it?