In the lead-up to Apple’s earnings report Tuesday, VentureBeat’s Dylan Tweney observed that, while the Web has been an open platform for going on 30 years, the apps ecosystem may be bringing about its demise.
Today, users can link between sites freely, weaving the Web with every new connection. But, as Tweney highlights, that’s not the case in the apps ecosystem, which is powering one of the fastest-growing data platforms: mobile.
“For big companies and carriers, app-to-app connections aren’t important. They’re too busy trying to build their own ecosystems. Most entrepreneurs don’t care about the ease of integrating apps: They just want to make their own apps popular and figure out how to make money from them. And for consumers, this issue is not even on the radar screen. That’s why I’m not optimistic about the future of the open web, particularly on mobile: There are huge companies with a large incentive to bypass it, and very few who have enough of a problem with it to register any opposition.”
Apple, as Tweeney observes, is not alone in generating momentum away from the open Web and the browser. Amazon, Google and even Facebook are, as Tweney writes, in their own ways, contributing to this evolution. So the apps ecosystem isn’t likely to go anywhere. In fact, if projections are correct, next year mobile users will eclipse desktop users. And Apple is still the leader in that growing ecosystem, with app developers prioritizing iOS over any other mobile operating system for good reason.
Even though Apple reported its first profit decline in a decade on Tuesday, Macs continue to outsell PCs and demand is still hot for iPads and IPhones. Apple CEO Tim Cook has said, though not unexpectedly, that shareholders and Apple fans should look forward to new products that could potentially arrive this fall and through to 2014.
So, is the Web dying — a victim of the growing apps store? It depends on who you talk to.
Tweney’s could be seen as another paragraph in the Web’s obituary. In 2010, Wired’s Chris Anderson and Michael Wolff made a similar observation, writing that “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 semiclosed platforms that use the Internet for transport but not the browser for display.”
They, too, observed that Apple’s iPhone was largely powering the transition, and that market forces would continue to drive users towards “custom applications that just work.” Even prior to this, in 1997, Wired published a cover story by Kevin Kelly and Gary Wolf, outlining how the Web browser was “about to croak,” with the authors wishing it “good riddance.” They predicted that push media would usher in a new era of media on the “the decentralized matrix known as the Net,” that offers “things you simply can’t browse.”
Forrester CEO George Colony generated a heated debate by declaring, in a 2011 speech, that “the Web is dead.”
But what do you think: Is the Web dying, and did apps place the knife in its back? Let us know in the comments.
Washington Post Co. chairman and chief executive Donald E.Graham is a member of Facebook’s board of directors.