“You’ve spent the day on the Internet, but not on the Web.” Smart words from a smart guy: Chris Anderson from Wired (http://www.wired.com/magazine/2010/08/ff_webrip/all/1). An amazing article that’s best read twice – he points out the obvious, but it’s worth pointing out. The internet has evolved from the traditional web site. The web is replaced by video streaming to Wii boxes running Netflix, by sharing between game platforms, and by (of course) apps. And those end-points aren’t necessarily open; in fact, they are closed. They are custom, closed experiences built just for the device in hand. And yet people vote for them in droves, because they provide specialized, tuned interfaces that are beautiful, and work just the way they should.
Much of that specialization is being driven by mobile. As Anderson points out, the smaller footprint of mobile means that apps do smaller number of things better – specialized interfaces that do small numbers of things incredibly well. But that specialization quickly leaps to a larger platform – the iPad – where it can be expanded to take advantage of the larger canvas. The general purpose browser, great for search and email, gets supplanted by specialization. Hence FlipBoard. Hence the Elements. Hence a lot of great iPad-specific apps. And people will pay for them, as long as they are done well.
Apps do things better then the web. Hence TweetDeck is a far better experience then Twitter home page. FlipBoard is a far better experience then reading a blog. And there’s a reason for that. Web experiences are very two dimensional – you go up and down on the web page. App experiences are multi-dimensional – you flip through pages (think FlipBoard), you rotate things (think Elements), you move things forward and back in time. It’s more natural, and more freeing, for the user, which makes for a far better experience. Hence again, the triumph of the enclosed.
Yes, it takes a lot more special purpose programming, at least for now. But so did the web initially. The web required lots of special purpose programming, but 18 years into it, and its pretty easy to put together a HubSpot site or pay our man Shazzad in Bangladesh to put together a WordPress blog. Early days. Let’s see where we are in another 18 years. And keep those apps coming in the meantime.