What is a future of the Web?
Is it Semantic Web as long time ago smtb called it? Spend few minutes to read so diverse definitions of Web 3.0 on wiki and return back here. Nobody argues with all those predictions, all of them will happen at some point in the future. My favorite prediction is smth like Kevin Kelly made public at the end of 2007, called “Next 5000 Days of the Web”
All those devices and sensors that will suck data into the web are related to our mobile devices. From the Mobile World Congress 2012 I brought information, announced by Eric Schmidt, that soon we will have 50,000,000,000 connected devices. Only imagine that number, almost ten devices per person. It is really huge!
But what we have today?
Today we see the boom of mobile apps. It is similar to what we have with the boom of apps for PCs 20-25 years ago. The history repeats itself, slightly at different level. Now we have app boom for smaller devices than PC. Years ago we have premium vendor of the app platform – Apple, and commoditizer – Microsoft. Today we have the same, premium vendor – Apple, and new commoditizer – Google/Android. But the big picture is similar, the apps are booming, there is brand new community of developers and users of them. There are new business models emerging how to monetize on this new boom.
How is it related to the Web at all? The web is in place, it is inevitable and we are all in the web, but there are nuances;) Surfing the web with Mobile Web is not the same as using the Native App. For business applications Mobile Web is logical choice, it smoothly substitutes awkward MEAP solutions. It is not a surprise that Gartner did not identify any MEAP vendors as Leaders in is Magic Quadrant. There are niche players, visionaries, but there are no leaders. It was not easy, hence many walls were broken by Mobile Web. Enterprise love Mobile Web, it has emerged and gaining popularity. Is it Web 3.0? What is a difference between web app for desktop, tablet, phone? There is almost no difference. Just few additional features like geolocation available from the browser, camera and so on. But delivery model is the same, SaaS-like familiar from PC times. Hence it is not a revolution to be named Web 3.0.
Revolution seems to be this application boom on modern phones and tablets. It smells like revolution. This observable on apps like Instagr.am. Believe me or not, but Instagram was a threat to Facebook! Initially people published photos on Flickr or Picasa and sent link to the friends and colleagues to share them. With Facebook photo sharing feature, it got simplified, you just upload photos and there got shared automatically within your network. No need in Flickr or Picasa anymore? Then came Instagram, with opportunity to make pictures with the phone, apply some cool effect and instantly share, without connecting the device to the PC and without that annoying bulk upload. Instagram has a backend, synthesized from Facebook and Twitter, which is cool for the user. You don’t need Facebook anymore to share your pictures! Bingo!
Ok, Instagram is cool, Facebook even bought it to kill it as a competitor… But were is the web there? It is called Web Services. There is very rich and powerful web, full of clouds and web services. As Jeff Bezos once said, the future of the web was in Amazon Web Services. It is. We have got very popular S+S model, with native app on the phone/tablet and back end on AWS or so. There is good report by Vision Mobile that “Apps is a New Web“, dated 2010. We have got new ways of discovery of useful things, brand new UX, new monetization models. Enough arguments to call it New Web. May be not Web 3.0, but definitely it is no more Web 2.0.
To HTML5 Believers.
Those who hope on HTML5 as a standard, and return to old good SaaS approach could be pleased that for enterprises this works even today and will work tomorrow. But for the non-enterprise users it is not a case. First of all, all standards need few years (up to 5) to mature, after that the wide adoption happens. Second, hardware will evolve too. Web technologies will not keep the pace of hw evolution. Have you ever heard about new sensors planned for the new iPhone? E.g. infrared camera patent filled by Apple recently. It will serve for DRM, like preventing from recording the live show. It will serve to identify objects by infrared tags, instead of ugly QR tags. Infrared are invisible to the people, which means they are better, because they do not spoil the look of the object. OK, back to the infrared sensor – do you thing web tools like HTML will have support for infrared camera tomorrow? I think no. I even bet it will not. The pace of hardware is fast and web technologies will be few steps behind.
We have entered Web 3.0
New sensors like infrared camera will be added to the phones, tablets in the future. Other devices will emerge in the future. Recall 50,000,000,000 connected devices. There is no easy way to apply SaaS to all of them. There is strong M2M trend, observed during recent years. It is not Web 2.0 anymore. We have started from the user apps, now we are descending to the machine apps too… It is really smth brand new. I propose to call this new era Web 3.0. For semantic web we could chose another name, when it come. So far we are within smth new, and instead of calling it New Web, let’s call it Web 3.0.