Thursday, January 28, 2010

The Splinternet

Is the World Wide Web an endangered species?

Driving home last night I listened to author Josh Bernoff on NPR's Marketwatch make the case that the golden age of the Internet is over. Bernoff argues that smart phones and devices like Apple's iPad are fundamentally changing the nature of the Net.'s really the Web that is shattering into pieces here. We've had 15 years now where there was a common standard for the kinds of computers that were connecting up to Web sites, and this really made it easy for the people who were delivering content to those folks. But now, between iPhones and Tablets and Kindles, you can't be sure if you build a Web site that everybody will experience it the same way anymore.

The comparison was made to the early 1990s when you had AOL and Compuserve -- the Coke and Pepsi of the Internet. You either used one or the other. There some features and services that one had the other didn't -- pros and cons to each. Then the Web came along and unified the way we use the Internet.

But up until now the Internet has been tied down to our home computers or even our laptops.

Now it's gone mobile. We carry the Internet around in our pockets with iPhones, Blackberries, Droids and whatever else. The Internet is often accessed and utilized through various apps. But there is no standard for them. An app for one device won't necessarily work on others.

This could pose a challenge for developers and consumers alike as they try to choose which horse to back. Is this the Internet equivalent of Beta vs. VHS?
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