10 web trends you can't ignore.

evolution of man

1. Widgets as a platform – Widgets have gained notoriety as a means to reach bloggers and social networkers, but the great untold story is that widgets are a powerful platform for delivering SaaS (software-as-a-service) to publishers of web-based applications. Great examples of utility widgets include offerings by JS-Kit, Disqus and KickApps.

2. Shift to exchanges – The standardization of Ad servers enabled the growth of Ad Networks. Now Ad Networks are giving way to Ad Exchanges. Look for this trend to affect the content world and, perhaps even sooner, the data world (yahoo is building data exchange for targeting and optimization). Look for major data to be exchanged in two-way marketplaces. My guess is that advertising networks converge into 3-5 major exchanges over the next 5-7 years. Right Media has been one of the leaders defining this space.

3. All web apps become social – During the dawn of Web 2.0, there was a philosophical debate – syndicate to social networks, or build your own social network site. Well, syndication has proven to be an effective method to extend beyond the web domain and connect to audiences using services like blogs, start pages, and social networks. But with the rise of Facebook Connect and services like AddThis, now developers of domain-based applications can help their audiences connect directly from their site as well. In short there will not be social media anymore, all media will be social.

4. Data portability as a feature – Those web-based services that make it as incredibly easy to get started with them by importing data (contacts, photos, etc) as they do to export data to other services, will grow much more quickly than others. Thus, data portability will become a key feature in web-based service design. Technologies and standards such as Facebook Connect, Data Portability, OpenID and more will enable a world where applications can truly take advantage of user context to deliver more personalized experiences.

5. Rise of closed loop marketing – Ad.com and Google popularized the notion of ‘accountable media.’ A provider like Vonage could effectively calculate the value of a ‘click’ by approximating the amount of purchases that would be driven online by that click. Although advertising to create brand-awareness clearly has proven valuable, the trend towards more ‘closed loop’ marketing methodologies that enable the advertiser to understand and optimize the loop between messaging to purchasing will grow in influence. Today, there are many loops that need to be closed in the CPG (consumer package good space). Should be some great innovation here.

6. Cloudy skies ahead – Amazon has popularized the idea of cloud computing in the SMB market, but we are just seeing the beginning of major infrastructure moving towards a hosted model and becoming commoditized.

7. Mobile access dwarfs desktop – As mobile devices continue to decrease in price and smart phones become ubiquitous, more people will access the Internet via their phone then by any other medium. Services like Pandora have done an excellent job embracing this trend by creating applications for iPhone.

8. The death of the desktop – The primary use of the desktop has become a launching point to access the browser. Sure there are some productivity applications like Word, Powerpoint, etc that we still leverage but it is only a matter of time until those go the way of the dinosaur. The browser has many limitations, but it seems inevitable the metaphor of the desktop as well as the idea of ‘downloading’ software has gone bye-bye.

9. IP finishes the job – Closed networks still power very highly-used services such as telephony and television. As the ubiquity of web access continues to expand at astronomical rates, services that were traditionally bound to these networks can now be delivered at scale to the masses via IP. Look for the cable box to go out of style and get replaced by the media center and new mobile-devices that are not tied to a single voice provider, but instead an access provider. This shift will prompt large cable companies to invest heavily in digital services and other higher-value offerings – fast.

10. And the big get bigger – The Internet favors scale. Vertical, or horizontal portals will no longer be able to command valuations at $1B+. Only web service platforms that can become core components of all web applications can reach those heights. With the advent of web services, web sites like Amazon and Flickr have become platforms that reach millions beyond their domains. As brick-and-mortar chains continue to collapse, large services like Amazon will benefit tremendously and major category leaders will go from big to f&*n enormous.

hoomanradfar Written by:

  • Agreed on all fronts – well done!

    I especially appreciate the references to JS-Kit and Data Portability of course 🙂


  • Hey dude, thx for the love. That was fast as hell. I am actually making updates to this post (link-outs), etc. Hope all is well and hope to see you again soon.

  • I agree with everything in this article, but it's sad to know there are no references to Open Social.

    I feel once iGoogle goes the way of OpenSocial we'll start to see products like Google Docs and Zoho Office get pushed more to the platform and we'll begin to see more competition from Facebook pushing themselves more as an application platform than a social network.

    I'd say it'd fall directly under #1 and #3 and could also be placed under #4, #6 and #8.

  • Hugh, I agree OpenSocial should be in there. In fact, I might even go update it. It was kind of implied in the 'widgets as a platform' section, but – alas – my drowsy blogging was not as comprehensive as I hoped. With respect to Facebook, I agree – the future of FB is OUTSIDE of FB.

  • I agree with all of these. Speaking as the founder of a social media site, #1 and #10 really hit home: widgets are sort of sneaking up on everyone (in a good way) in terms of how they're integrating various web apps. They've been a big driver of our growth.

    As for #10, the viral nature of social media sites, widgets, etc., makes reaching 'scale' all the more important: once you do, your users do the marketing and content-generation for you. In a lot of verticals, the scene is starting to become pretty top-heavy (Why should I sign up at this #5 network, everyone is already at the #1 network! line of thinking)

    Great post.

  • Thx, Andy. Would love to hear how you are using widgets successfully. Tipd is pretty cool btw. 🙂

  • > Would love to hear how you are using widgets successfully.

    Well, this example will be specific to growing a social news community, though I think the general principle can apply to any type of web app:

    When we started Tip'd, the user acquisition strategy I had planned was mostly 'traditional' web PR type stuff: get mentions on investing blogs, get a writeup on Mashable/ReadWriteWeb/ZDNet, etc., then that traffic would convert into user signups.

    However, as the weeks/months went by and I monitored our analytics (a 'conversion' for Tip'd being a user registration), I realized that a large amount of our user registrations (and often, the best users) were coming via widgets & mashups, rather than other websites in our niche. For instance, we were included in the Sociable WordPress plugin and the usernamecheck.com app. People who use these apps already "get it" and are plugged in to social media, therefore they were much quicker to sign up on Tip'd. (I have other examples but I don't want to share them publicly!)

    Then over time you have the 'rich get richer effect'– users come to your social news site, because that's where the other users are; and new widget makers include your app, because other widgets include it and because your traffic and userbase numbers justify inclusion; it's a self-reinforcing market position. Of course, it's tough to get the ball rolling, but then once you do, it can sustain itself on its own momentum (I'm sure you've seen a ton of that with all of your virally-spread widgets!)

    BTW, glad to hear you're enjoying Tip'd 🙂 I won't pretend that I'm not anxious to get our service included in AddThis, let me know if there's anything I can do to help you make a decision on whether to include it!


  • I never thaught og disqus as a widget, my Idea of widgets were limited to sw gadgets that sat on the desktop like a music widget or a jazz radio widget. Would I be correct then in assuming that any sw addon that enhances functionality can now be considered a widget?

  • Orlando, sorry for the late reply. A widget is a micro-application that can be installed in a 3rd party container such as a blog, start page, or desktop.