The Future of the Internet: Web vs Apps

The Future of the Internet: Web vs Apps
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With the increasing number of mobile devices mainly thanks to the tablet revolution, the way users use the Internet is morphing into an Apps use vs Web surfing. A report from Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project and Elon University’s Imagining the Internet Center analyze this trend.

As stated by TechNews “The report says this change marks not just a shift in how people receive information, but also in how they share information. Pew says a tipping point may have been reached in June 2011, when it was reported that Americans were spending more time engrossed with apps than on the desktop or mobile Web. “Mobile tools such as smartphones, tablets, netbooks, and laptop computers are now a primary source of Internet connectivity in highly developed nations, and the uptake of technology tools in less-developed regions of the world has also been dominated by small, wireless devices,” Pew observes.”

Pew reported that in June 2011 the amount of time Americans “spent on apps began to outpace the time spent on the desktop or mobile Web,” an average of 81 minutes a day with apps compared to 74 minutes a day on the Web.

By December 2011, the gap increased: 72 minutes a day on the Web compared to 94 minutes a day with apps, according to comScore, Alexa and Flurry Analytics.

More details from The Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project:

“A high-impact cover story in Wired magazine in 2010 asserted in its title: “The Web Is Dead. Long Live the Internet.” Authors Chris Anderson and Michael Wolff argued that the World Wide Web was “in decline” and “apps” were in ascendance. This is not just a debate about technology use and which businesses will prevail. It involves different visions of the way that people will access information, learn, amuse themselves, and create material with others in the digital era.

Anderson and Wolff stated their case this way:

As much as we love the open, unfettered Web, we’re abandoning it for simpler, sleeker services that just work ….This is not a trivial distinction. Over the past few years, one of the most important shifts in the digital world has been the move from the wide-open Web to closed platforms that use the Internet for transport but not the browser for display….

Because the screens are smaller, such mobile traffic tends to be driven by specialty software, mostly apps, designed for a single purpose. For the sake of the optimized experience on mobile devices, users forgo the general-purpose browser. They use the Net, but not the Web. Fast beats flexible…

This was all inevitable. It is the cycle of capitalism. The story of industrial revolutions, after all, is a story of battles over control. A technology is invented, it spreads, a thousand flowers bloom, and then someone finds a way to own it, locking out others. It happens every time.…

The wide-open Web of peer production, the so-called generative Web where everyone is free to create what they want, continues to thrive, driven by the nonmonetary incentives of expression, attention, reputation, and the like. But the notion of the Web as the ultimate marketplace for digital delivery is now in doubt.

They clearly forecast the rise of the mobile Web, but the debate they launched with the apps vs. Web formulation continues. It is in part a debate about the future of the personal computer vs. smaller, portable mobile devices. It is also central to the debate about the environment in which people gather and share information.

Others have shared concerns, including a warning in the December 2011 issue of Scientific American in which Web creator Tim Berners-Lee wrote, “The Web as we know it is being threatened,” adding that it “could be broken into fragmented islands.

That being said, 59% of the surveyed agreed with the following statement which still forsees the Web as the dominant general source of services and information:

“In 2020, the World Wide Web is stronger than ever in users’ lives. The open Web continues to thrive and grow as a vibrant place where most people do most of their work, play, communication, and content creation. Apps accessed through iPads, Kindles, Nooks, smartphones, Droid devices, and their progeny—the online tools GigaOM referred to as “the anti-Internet”—will be useful as specialized options for a finite number of information and entertainment functions.

There will be a widespread belief that, compared to apps, the Web is more important and useful and is the dominant factor in people’s lives.”

Source: Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project / Video Added By Cap Falcon
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: iPhone Apps By Daniel Y. Go / FlickR