At the end of 2011 Forrester CEO George Colony publically announced ‘the death of the web’. His notion? A social thunderstorm is approaching, one which will expose the web’s limited architecture, and mark the end of the traditional browser. In the wake of the storm will dawn a new era, which Colony dubbed the ‘Post-Social’ world. The web shall be eclipsed by a faster and simpler model, one which improves online experience, and extends to connect the real world, ‘The App Internet’.
Colony’s theory evolved from the fact that the web is too heavily dependent on the power of the network. Its power is growing at a much slower rate than that of storage and processing, and therefore limiting our ability to harness this power. Colony believes that in order to gain the greatest efficiency, we need to leverage the ‘super computers’ in our hands, the power of the cloud, and servers on the internet.
What emerges is the App Internet, with very powerful services in the cloud connected to very powerful applications on local devices. The application market is currently worth around 2.2 billion dollars, and growing at a rate of 85% annually. Many companies are beginning to move funds away from web page development, and towards creating downloadable applications. But could applications really replace the web? It’s definitely an attractive prospect- however the idea that the entire web would be replaced seems somewhat unlikely.
Applications are closed models by design, and their content is controlled by app developers. To move from the world wide web to apps in their current state would be a bit like moving from the ocean to a bath. In order for a move toward native apps to work, we need to carry something like the URI over, to make data for any application identifiable from any other application. Plus, we should not overlook the potential of HTML5, which could bring the world of applications to browsers, reversing Forrester’s prediction.
So what should we make of this ‘Post-Social’ world? (as Colony envisions it). Forrester sees social applications that are faster, more efficient, and have a higher value-per-time equation. We only have so many hours in the day to spend on web apps, services, etc. Therefore there is, and will continue to be consolidation in key markets. What Mr Colony is really talking about here, is happening in the present. Now we have mainstream adoption of social networking services, we need better tools for socialising which enable us to connect with new people more efficiently. Applications such as Flipboard, are already working to sweep away the efficiencies of sites such as Facebook, and enabling users to view all the social media and content they are interested in with the convenience of a singular experience.
Colony’s somewhat bombastic prediction continues to stimulate heated debate online. Many are in disagreement with the Forrester boss, the general feeling being that his concept of the internet’s future is just a sophisticated analysis of what is in the rear view mirror. But what are your views on the future of the internet?
By Tanya Kalyan intern at IDG Connect.
NEXT ARTICLEAdrian Schofield (South Africa) - Bridging the Gap»
Phil Muncaster reports on China and beyond
Jon Collins’ in-depth look at tech and society
Kathryn Cave looks at the big trends in tech