Web Commentary: The Web in 2037
It may seem overwhelmingly presumptuous to forecast what the Internet will be
like in 2037 or, for that matter, in 2007. But it is an exercise in taking our
current understanding of the Web and hypothesizing about what opportunities will
be presented to us today and how those of us involved in Web business can
prepare to take advantage of them tomorrow.
Where are we, where are we going?
Forecasting the future is more than just an exercise in understanding the current state of the Web and predicting, based on our most informed assumptions, what things will actually be like in terms of new technology. Savvy seers should consider how the promotion of products and services will evolve and, most importantly, how Web business owners interact with the opportunities presented us and the opportunities we can make for ourselves.
While we could focus on the technologies, applications and platforms the Web will utilize in the future, the focus should really be how we are quickly entering a time of the omnipresence of the ’Net. In essence, the tools, services and products we are hearing so much about now have a dramatic impact not just on our business or personal lives today, but tomorrow as well.
The methods used to communicate (and market and advertise) that are so popular today will still be available in 2037, even if they are integrated in a way that makes them harder to recognize for users than before. RSS and weblogs will proliferate to the point where everyone — business professionals and those in the private sector alike — will be able to instantly communicate on a more intimate level than was ever considered when those technologies became popular.
For example, you probably won’t be blogging from a laptop, desktop or even through your phone — an interesting technology currently employed by companies such as Odeo. Instead, you’ll see Voiceover Internet Protocol (VoIP) intertwine itself into our daily lives by allowing you to blog, chat, IM and all the rest from the convenience of your VoIP-enabled kitchen table. According to a report from In-Stat, about nine million U.S. homes currently have at least one VoIP user and all signs indicate a robust and growing market.
Imagine a time when local becomes synonymous with social in the future, users of social sites such as Del.icio.us may be able to offer up near real-time information on restaurant specials within a three block radius from other users. Getting hungry? Describe your favorite pizza to your refrigerator and, hopefully, the doorbell rings in a half-hour. Looking for take-out? Your phone will tell you when your order is ready, fetch updated traffic information before you leave the house and even notify you that your dry cleaning is ready four blocks ahead of time.
Many of us, myself included, could not exist without our BlackBerrry’s, Treos, Skype- or MySpace-enabled Helio phones. Now take it a step further with GPS. In early January, Yahoo! partnered with Mountain View, California startup Dash Navigation to bundle its Yahoo! Local search into Dash’s navigation offering to let users search for services or businesses from their cars. Sony’s latest HDTVs will support an optional component capable of streaming Internet video and downloading content using RSS syndication. Get the picture?
With the proliferation of Web enabled phones, location-based services and mobile search there will be a prime opportunity to attract new users, friends and colleagues and, of course, sales for businesses that are and remain connected. That closeness stems today from participatory advertising and user-generated content. Both are on the rise and show no sign of waning. A recent retail e-commerce report from comScore revealed that 6.2 percent of high-ticket items came from social networking websites, an increase of 4 percent from 2005.
So, how should you prepare for 2037? You may not even be above ground but, in the case that longevity is in your genes, it is essential that you focus on the true long-term business opportunities today. And those all revolve around the looming integration of the Internet with every day, every minute interactions. While that much may be obvious you will still need to prepare — so how will you?