The Webby Awards, handed out by New York's International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences, have announced their list of the top 10 Internet moments of the decade. With just a quick scan, the list is impressive and underscores the incredible impact the Internet has had on most every aspect of our lives. For our purposes, let's take a look at how these innovations have changed the business world, and what they might lead to in the future.
In addition, don't miss Website Magazine's January issue - available only to professional-level members - where we examine the coming trends for Web business in 2010.
Craigslist online classified site expands outside San Francisco (2000)
Craigslist is one of the most heavily-trafficked sites on the Internet. It's also a prime example of how a website doesn't have to be beautiful to be highly effective. While design is important, craigslist shows us that functionality rules supreme. The site has also become a major online revenue generator for many businesses. Craigslist also drastically shortened the space between buyers and sellers while, at the same time, forces good old fashioned person-to-person sales.
The launch of Google AdWords (2000)
Perhaps nothing changed the online economy more than Google AdWords. What started as a search curiosity suddenly became an economic boon to Google, and thousands of online businesses. In fact, many business owe their entire existence to AdWords. Look for Google to keep innovating and never underestimate their power to make lightning-fast changes to the online business world.
The launch of online encyclopedia Wikipedia (2001)
Wikipedia was arguably the first major online success built by volunteers. It also showed that even the best intentions can be sullied - Wikipedia quickly came under fire for being a pool of innacuracies and marketing ploys. However, Wikipedia is solid proof that, given the oppportunity, users will take the time to contribute just because they can.
The shutdown of file-sharing site Napster (2001)
Napster taught us that the Internet might be untamed, but it is not without law. Napster also showed how quickly business plans can be changed and implemented online and that no online business is ever down and out, unless the business owner decides so.
Google's initial public offering (2004)
Perhaps one of the most fascinating companies in the history of business, Google is here to stay. With a $180 billion market capitilization, the loyalty of millions, and a dedication to and track record of producing stellar products and services which support its advertising initiatives, Google is the standard by which all exceptional businesses will be measured for decades to come.
The online video revolution led by YouTube (2006)
YouTube is amazing. For the first time, John and Jane Doe could be seen and heard by millions with the click of a mouse. YouTube has revolutionized our public eye. For online businesses, YouTube is an opportunity to add life to just about any product, and gives the chance for exposure that used to costs hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Facebook opens to non-college students and Twitter launches (2006)
The social media and networking revolution officially took hold in 2006. While the creases continue to be ironed out, social media is not a trend - it's become a major part of the online economy for those who work it properly. in fact, an entirely new workforce has been built around it. Businesses are realizing the power of social sites and should be getting involved, starting with a solid strategy. Social media has given businesses the ability to reach farther, faster. It's also forced businesses to be responsible for the quality of what they produce - the people have been empowered like never before, and they are using it to demand accountability.
Apple's iPhone debuts (2007)
The iPhone was a tremendous leap forward in mobile technology that has yet to be surpassed. Users have never had more power in the palm of their hands. It's also structuring a new industry, from apps to mobile banking and beyond. "Mobile" has finally arrived - and it all started with the iPhone.
The use of the Internet in the US presidential campaign (2008)
Barack Obama won the 2008 election in large part due to his campaign's mastery of the Internet. "Yes We Can" rang true - the public's voice was never stronger. Politics changed forever in 2008 and it also proved that grass-roots movements had a most powerful ally in the Internet. One of the lessons we can learn from the 2008 race is that success online is not free - Obama spent more than $7.5 million advertising on Google. And millions more on multiple other online channels.
The use of Twitter during the Iranian election protests (2009)
The Iranian protests are just one example of how Twitter can spread a message to millions of people in a matter of seconds. Where Facebook relies on friends, Twitter relies on loosely connected associations. But while loose, these connections have the ability to influence millions. Twitter also shows us how quickly businesses need to understand new technologies - before they are used against us.