Is the Internet shrinking now? (part II)

With the HTML 5 / CSS / Javascript trinity the web was quickly becoming the leading computing platform, a place where products and services could be distributed world-wide. Also a publishing platform for the masses. No longer true.

The website had been the atom the the Internet for a decade: You would shop on Amazon, find flights on an airline website, sell on eBay, look for a job on Monster.

Now for many people the Web is Facebook. This where the services are, where their people are hanging around, where their leisure time is spent. This recent article, Facebook wants to be our One True Login, and the habit of using Google Search as a replacement of the URL bar, show that most people don’t get how the Internet works.

I live on facebook

Where do you want to live?

And the success of platforms like Facebook is not surprising: it’s a place where people doesn’t feel confused, a curated, safe environment where they can do their stuff. Without messing with URLs, multiple logins and the dangers of the wild Internet.

And developers follow users, because users is where the money is or will be. This leads to a fragmentation, happening now under our eyes.
If you are a start-up or a software developer starting a project, one of the strategic decisions is: On what platform?
A few years back, the answer was evident: Web.
But powerful platforms have emerged: Apple’s iTunes / App Store and Facebook are the most impressive examples. Palm purchase by HP may end up creating a third powerful alternative.


Those platforms bring customers by the millions, take care of the most annoying aspects of web services, like login, marketing, payments, among others. Why would then developers want to open their web shop “in the wild” and fight for visibility, customers, and reputation, if they can have a comfy land inside the walled domain of their Lord?

Therefore, the Internet is now shrinking, not in size, in number of users, but in ambition.
Ambition is heading down for two reasons:
Innovation is more likely to happen in the wild than in walled domains with strict rules to respect. And if those new platforms are draining a big amount of the innovation power, there is less for the Web.

Why does it matter?

For developers, because they are in front of an ineludible strategy decision: What platforms for my products?
For users, because they are giving away their personal information, consuming habits, payment information, time and money to a single vendor.
And bet all your assets on a single vendor is risky.

This is why the Web should ultimately win, because nobody controls it, because it’s multi-vendor by essence, and because you are not tied to a single vendor that ends up controlling you.