Web 3.0 – There Is An App For That

The following is a guest post from Trevor Doerksen, CEO of Calgary’s Mobovivo – a digital media company focused on the challenges Broadcast and Media companies face in marketing and delivering premium content to audiences on alternative platforms.

Wired Magazine’s Chris Anderson and Michael Wolff claim “The Web Is Dead” in August 17 article.

Of course, the Wired authors, like a lot of people, know there is a difference between the web and the Internet, and are not claiming the “Internet” is dead – in fact precisely the opposite is the case. However, proclaiming a technology dead is controversial and Alexis Madgrigal in the Atlantic argues that proclaiming x is dead is a dead end.

However, if you have an iPad or use an iPhone you start to see things a bit differently. If you don’t use an iPad or iPhone you likely use the web more. This is what changed in 2010, more people have devices that can launch apps.

Remember these apps don’t work on your desktop or laptop computer – this is the domain of the “search-centric” web browser. Apps are much less about search for obvious reasons. It is easier to type a search term into your web browser on a full-size keyboard then it is on a smaller keyboard – apps are therefore “content-centric” and present the content in optimized ways. The web browser is “search-centric” and presents content in a generic (and arguably limited) way.

Since 1995, the web browser has captured the imagination and generated a lot of grief for Microsoft, as the company was sued by the US government for monopolistic behaviour as it tried to make the browser and the Microsoft operating system one in the same.

A lot has changed since these Web 1.0 days. We have seen the emergence of the “social web”, often referred to as the delineating feature of Web 2.0. We have also seen applications, compute and storage move to the cloud as platforms become services powering and enabling websites and the the underlying HTML code in new ways.

The fact that Web 3.0 may not take place on the web is something of a surprise. The fact that Web 3.0 may be almost void of advertising is even more important.

Of course, the definitions for Web 3.0 are varied and include everything from the altruistic semantic web, location-aware web, high quality, expert-content web, profitable businesses models on the web, or just a web with lots of high quality video.

Given the diversity of opinion it may be impossible to predict when, or even what, Web 3.0 is or when it arrives. Of course, it may be easier to tell after it arrives.

Web 3.0 arrived in mid-2010.

Just as Chris Anderson argued in the aforementioned Wired article, the first activities of an iPad user’s day does not involve a web browser, but does involve apps that take advantage of semantic information, are location-aware, feature expert content, feature high quality professional video and based on paid business models without barely an advertisement in sight. But this is all available in a browser you say. It is all doable in a search-centric browser, it is also available (and better) in content-centric apps.

From the alarm clock to reading and sending email, checking the weather, viewing maps, watching video during a workout, checking into a flight, managing a trip, booking a rental car, reading the news, listening to the radio, updating Facebook, making a restaurant reservation, updating twitter, checking sales volumes from the previous day, reviewing documents, and making Skype calls – there is an app for all of these activities (too bad there is not app dashboard for that). I used my browser to do all these things in 2009, but I don’t in 2010. And the experience is better. Not only is it content-centric and presented beautifully, it is location-aware, semantic, personalized, professional and high quality – apps are delivering Web 3.0.

Speaking about semantics, at the end of the day, Web 2.0 or 3.0 is just semantic and probably not very important. Although a lot of energy is spent predicting the what and when, by just saying Web 3.0 arrived in 2010 and it arrived as apps lets us all get on with one of the real significant issues that emerges with the use of apps vs. the web. In the list of apps used by Chris Anderson and the those listed in the paragraph above, there are almost no ads, nor is there really display space for any. The fact is, that of the 15 activities listed above, enabled by 15 different apps, there are two ads – one in my newspaper app and one in my travel management app. Two ads in 15 apps that get used daily. And not a lot of room for more ads. Paid business models are behind 13 of the 15 apps.

Now, I can look at my web browser history and it conveniently keeps track of how many different pages I viewed in the last week. So far today, 3 pages, Thursday – 200, Wednesday – 84, Tuesday – 127, Monday – 177. And I use Google Docs in my web browser (no app yet) to write everything – including this article accounting for nearly 1/3 of those pages. No wonder Michael Wolff talks about the failure of web advertising over the last 2 years. He calls it a “pretty piss-poor advertising medium”.

Wolff points out that about 35 percent of all our media time is now spent on the Web, but ad dollars have risen only to 14 percent of consumer advertising spending and have levelled off. Television also accounts for 35 percent of our media time and gets nearly 40 percent of ad dollars.

So as some have argued, Web 3.0 arrives with a profitable business model emerging from what is called Web 2.0. This business model seems less and less likely to be based on advertising and in 2010, with the arrival of Web 3.0, there is an app store for that business model.