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.