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So the web will die, but what exactly will it be replaced by? [LeWeb]

The web will die says George Colony, the rather insightful boss of Forrester Research — and here is why.

He says that fundamentally the web is a waste and inefficient. It fails to take advantage of the incredible processing power and storage abilities of the powerful gadgets and computers we use. It makes no sense to leave these out of the equation. Rather the best use of the technology at our disposal today is to use both the internet and the processing power of our devices — what Colony has dubbed the “app-internet”.

Both the old and new architectures are dead
Colony said that there have been two major computing models. The first is outdated and dead — this is the PC era where we put executables on our desktop. The problem: this model does not leverage the cloud.

Then there is the cloud model which sees all our applications and information going online. “Put everything in the cloud!” they say. But even this isn’t good enough. “Cloud” may be the latest, hot topic of the day, but is not suitable because it fails to exploit the incredible processing power of the devices we use today.

The incredible rise of processing power and storage
To back up his argument the Forrester boss looks at the incredible growth of processing power throughout history. It doubles every 18 months. Storage doubles every 12 months. Both are not only becoming more powerful, but cheaper too.

Colony says that although the network is improving in power and speed, it’s not advancing as fast as the tech on our devices (storage and processing power namely) so it would just be plain crazy to ignore this part of computing when developing applications and solutions.

“If you were to build an architecture based only around the network, you would be wasting all of this extraordinary improvement in storage and processors,” he says.

“The iPad2 is equivalent to a 1986 Cray II supercomputer. It was the pre-eminent computer in the world. In 1993 the iPad2 would have been considered one of the 30 fastest computers in the world. My question is, considering the power of this device, what will we hold in our hands in five years from now?” he asks.

The ‘app-internet’ emerges
Colony says we will see a new model emerging called the “app-internet”.

“We will have very powerful services in the cloud (data etc), connected to and interpolating with very powerful applications on these local devices (PCs, iPads and servers),” he says.

Almost every company Colony speaks to says that they are able to better mirror a “real-world, store experience” in an app environment than a web environment.

This application environment is “faster, simpler and more immersive” — and just simply a better experience.

Forrester believes that the app-internet is a US$2.2-billion market, growing at 85% next year. His company surveyed some big players — and 41% claim to be migrating their development away from the web to applications.

“This is the architecture we believe will become dominant in the future,” he says. “Remember the web is not the internet. The web is a software architecture we decided to put on the internet all those years ago. Just as the web replaced other software that preceded it, so the web will eventually be replaced itself,” he says.

“App-internet we believe is the best direction for that replacement.”

The ‘web huggers’ will lose
Apple is one of the leaders here, but it was incredibly lucky too. Colony reminds us that Steve Jobs never envisioned that others would write apps for the iPhone or iPad — he was only talked into that later.

He says the “web huggers” — companies like Google, Facebook and Renren — are in trouble because these are very HTML-focused companies that generally ignore the power of the device.

“Google, if they could, would stop the world from turning. They love the web. Every time you click on the web they have a chance to make money — they do not want the web to end,” he says.

But it’s not all bad news for Google: It has Android. He notes that Google are having a “Lenin-Trotsky moment”. Google has seen the writing on the wall and are focusing all its efforts on Android.

The three big internet-app players of today
Colony says there are three companies emerging in the new app-internet ecosystem:

First, there is Apple with its brilliant iOS platform (but it could run into problems in its ecosystem because it is “overcharging”, witnessed by the Financial Times-Apple tiff). Second is Google, not Google the search engine, but Google the Android maker. And third, “a dark horse” in Amazon, especially if you look at Amazon Silk, the web browser developed by Amazon for Kindle Fire. Colony says this is a “very cool step away from the web and towards app-internet”.

Could Microsoft make a comeback?
If you think back in the history of the technology industry, every ten years there is a major tech company who we think is dead that makes a comeback. In 1980 that was Intel, in 1990 that was IBM, in 2000 it was Apple.

Colony says that Microsoft is the company best positioned to make a comeback, but it would also need a “generational change in leadership” for this to happen. Microsoft is well positioned because it is a seasoned software, hardware and internet player, so can take advantage of all these ecosystems — and harness both the power of the device and the network.

One look at Microsoft’s brilliant Windows Phone platform makes you believe that Colony may well have a point here.

“If you look at the app-internet architecture it looks alot like gaming: You can’t play Call of Duty over HTML or over the web. You have a very powerful device (an XBox) using its resources with the cloud.”

Watch the full talk on YouTube here:

Author | Matthew Buckland: Publisher

Matthew Buckland: Publisher
Matthew Buckland is a web guy who has over the years worked in a programming, editorial and business capacity within the online media environment. He now dedicates his life and soul to Creative Spark and Memeburn.com. He was previously General Manager of Publishing at news24.com, and then went... More


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  2. Roger Weiss

    December 9, 2011 at 9:49 am

    Oh really?  As long as developers have to pay money to Apple to write apps for the Apple platform and as long as Apple has a stronghold on the veto to whether your app can be put on their platform, people will still write WebApps.  Its far cheaper to write webapps.  HTML5 is making strides into transforming the browser into a powerful platform (GeoLocation, Offline  Storage, Canvas etc).  So he’s saying the the guys behind HTML5 have it wrong.

  3. Ian Whiteley

    December 9, 2011 at 5:22 pm

    The web flourished in the days of dial-up, I hardly think its going to die in the days of broadband.

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  5. Mike Melanson

    December 11, 2011 at 3:12 am

    Don’t fully agree with Mr. Colony… I think Apple will lose their dominance in the market and HTML5 will transform the web, not kill it…

  6. Mike Melanson

    December 11, 2011 at 3:12 am

    Don’t fully agree with Mr. Colony… I think Apple will lose their dominance in the market and HTML5 will transform the web, not kill it…

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  9. Ken Moore

    December 14, 2011 at 8:51 pm

    I still see places with a rotary phone. :)

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  13. Paul S

    December 15, 2011 at 8:20 pm

    Okay. I’m fine with what he’s saying — although I think it might be a bit overstated: not everyone in the world can afford fancy gadgets that run apps. So the web will become like the newspaper of the modern age (not the newspaper of today that is dying, the newspaper of fifty years ago where everybody read the news over their morning cup o’ joe). [shrug] Okay.

    But can we PLEEEEEASE just go straight to calling it the ‘appinet’ model (or something similar: ‘appiNet,’ ‘app-inet’…) — ‘app-Internet’ is way too clunky for modern language, and if I already thought of shortening it, so did someone else.

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  17. Mcolledge

    December 31, 2011 at 4:41 am

    my browsers are still my #1, #2 and #3 apps i use the most (chrome, ff on destkop, android browser on phone), then its my gmail app on my phone, my facebook app and my twitter app also on my phone, ms office on the laptop, and finally evernote (desktop app and mobile app) round out my top 10. all are cloud based in some way, even using ms office i am storing with dropbox.

    so what if apps make life more ‘store like’.  believe it or not, shopping is not the only thing i do online

    i can still killl less than year old laptops just by having too many browser windows open, so you don’t  need to be playing installed games or using high end software to keep up with modern machines

    lastly, don’t count the browser dead anytime soon. microsoft tried to make the browser part of the OS years ago, and look what happened there.  

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  33. Anonymous

    January 16, 2012 at 8:14 am

    See, the flaw in this line of thinking is failing to see the bigger picture. Yes, apps are getting more powerful everyday and will definitely play a huge role in one’s connected life (they already do in mine.) The thing you’re leaving out is the control the gatekeepers have.

    Facebook for example, is never going to let you access everything that is Facebook from an app. You will always have to go to their site for something. This is ok because your ad views pay for the site so your bank account doesn’t have to.

    As long as companies need you to visit their sites, they won’t create apps that allow you to bypass them completely.

    Furthermore, sometimes it makes more sense to create a site that acts the same on all platforms than to write apps for Android, iOS, WP7, Blackberry, Mac OS, Windows, Linux desktop distros and any other platforms respectively. The “Web” works across all platforms without having to port code and without having to pay any of the platform owners an entry fee or a cut of the profits.

  34. Gheorghe Matei

    February 11, 2012 at 6:40 pm

    My current working is about the future in software — on a simple and revolutionary model! The current software model is a tremendous waste of time and money, a danger for the human society. Cloud first? Cloud on the left? Cloud on the right? These are a cover for all mistakes for 20 years in software. We live only from hardware. The software is a mess.

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