If I was Google I would be really scared

In Uncategorized on December 8, 2009 at 6:31 pm

Just think about it… what is the angular stone of Google’s business model? What is key element that keeps Google alive and has given them so much success? The first thing that might come to your mind is “search”, right? Lets think a bit more deep here. What are users searching in Google? Users are mainly searching for web pages, right?. Web pages written in a standard language called HTML. But let’s try to get even deeper. How do we consume those web pages? Aha! Through a BROWSER.

Think about it. People nowadays can’t imagine Internet without this application that we call browser. But just imagine for a second that browsers didn’t exist… well… Google would not have any reason to exist either. Their (web page) search engine, their web page ads, their web-based applications are all based on the premise that a simple application called “browser” that interprets HTML/CSS/Javascript exists. A huge empire is built based on JUST ONE APPLICATION! Even people confuse the word “browser” with “Google”!

Now… is it really that weird to imagine Internet without browsers? Actually not! There is a well-known example that is clearly removing the need for a browser: Twitter. I don’t remember the last time I actually opened a browser to read through the contents of http://www.twitter.com. Like many of you, I use Twitter rich clients (on my computer and my phone). I don’t need a browser anymore to consume the most dynamic source of information in this world. Twitter has done something amazing that is about to transform the entire web: It is bringing the Internet one step closer to us.

Another example: the Semantic Web:

“The Semantic Web is an evolving development of the World Wide Web in which the meaning (semantics) of information and services on the web is defined, making it possible for the web to “understand” and satisfy the requests of people and machines to use the web content.”

One of the main goals of the Semantic Web is to make it understandable for machines. Do you really think that in a couple of years we will still consume the Web inside a small window called browser if the Semantic Web becomes a reality? The future Semantic Web talks about “machines” not “browsers” and mark these words… The future of the Web will not be in the browser.

Just think about it… ads, unstructured information, pop ups, forced navigation, etc… wouldn’t it be better to have a network of semantically relevant knowledge that we organize and consume as we wish? We are not that far from this new era. But is Google ready for it? When they are currently building an OS entirely based around the old notion of a browser… I really doubt it.

Open your mind! Can you imagine a browser-less era? Please share with me your thoughts…

  1. web pages have become less usefull over time; web applications are on the rise. Google is doing what it can to help this transition.
    But even the applications that you’re talking about use the HTTP protocol.
    The browser works very well because effort has continued to be put into making the web pages load and look, and the web applications work, the same on just about any computer or device you want to use. I make a living as a web application developer, and with only a little effort, my apps work on windows, mac, linux, unix, WII, DSi, or just about any thing else that can have a browser.

    But browsers are not the only thing that can consume the HTTP protocol. The applications you mentioned are an example of apps that can also use the HTTP protocol that are not browsers. My RSS reader and even my task tray app that shows the current local weather and forecast also uses the HTTP protocol. Even the little IM apps I use, and the DynDNS client I have all use the HTTP protocol.

    That said, many apps I use are not web browsers, nor do they use the HTTP protocol. Not everything we do is always “web” (or even Internet) enabled.

    What we are seeing is that there continues to be a desire and a need for a variety of applications to help us. often those that are “Internet” apps will use HTTP, but not always. And often we can build interesting and useful web apps, but sometimes we want/need alternatives as well.

    The fact the web has become so useful is good. And so is that fact that we can still have a diversity of means of interacting with each other.

    Vive la différence!

    • Thanks a lot for you comment AMH! I don’t think I’ve made any comment against the HTTP protocol (or TCP or IP etc). I sincerely believe that HTTP has a lot to offer still. My point is regarding the HTML markup language (mainly used to visualize information in a BROWSER). The fact that content providers force us to consume information in a fixed structured format (+ads +popups etc) it’s something that people will start to not enjoy (just like people are getting bored of commercials on TV and are switching to Internet).

      My point is that the future of the Web will occur one step closer to us. Doesn’t it feel weird that in order to open your favorite content you first need to open a browser and type a funny URL (or click on a bookmark) and then browse to the content. Don’t you feel there’s a (very repetitive) step that can be avoided in this picture?

  2. With TV it’s worse. You have to wait until the show you want to watch is being broadcast in order to see it. Plus you still have to turn the TV on and change the channel to see the show you want.

    If you happen to have a library of DVDs, you still have to select the DVD you want, turn on the TV and the DVD player, put the DVD in the player, and change the TV to accept input from the DVD. And even then, most DVDs have you negotiate a menu before playing the content on it.

    Whenever there’s a choice of content, we’ll always have to navigate to make that choice. If even if have a straight DVD player with an attached screen you still have to choose the DVD you want, and also navigate the DVD’s menu.

    One can create shortcuts to the content one wants that will atomatically start the browser, but ebven then one has to navigate through the shortcuts.

    I don’t see that using a device which gives a big choice which we must navigate through being such a bad thing. I like bookstores and libraries because they offer such a large choice. I don’t find navigating the choice to so onerous that I would ever give it up for a store that only sold one book, or even a store that only sold magazines.

    Computers are popular not because they are programable calculators, but because they ofer such a rich and diverse means of interacting with each other. Web browser are popular because they offer us not only a means of getting text, but also the full and rich experience that computers offer us.

    There is a cost to create media; that some (or all) of the cost can be shouldered by advertisers is not entirely a bad thing. But if I really don’t want to watch commercials whilst watching my favorite TV programs, I can ante up some money for my favorite Public Broadcaster, or else I can buy the content I want on DVD (if/when it becomes available on that format).

    I find the use of a browser no more or less weird than any of the other examples I’ve offered. And I’m not displeased that advertisers are willing to pay for content I’m getting for free, or for a nomimal charge.

    But, sometimes, I do appreciate being able to pay a small premium for content I really want, and in a format that I can have as part of my own private library. And I like that I can share this library with my family and freinds at anytime. Which is why I also really like books and DVDs.

    We have choices. The browser is a means for us to browse through many choices. But we can also choose to use other means to access at least some of the same content that a browser offers us. Which gives us more choices.

    All in all I think that’s all really cool.But I don’t think that the browser’s going away too quickly. Books haven’t, and there were people saying that the browser would be the end of books. But the funny thing is that as the web has increased literacy, more people are reading books. 😉

    Perhaps more people will use a browser, in addition to using all those other tools you think are going to make a browser obsolete?

    • You just made a great observation! We, as users, want the information that we are interested in as fast as possible (also with less ads and disturbing annoyences as possible). Books are a great example of this. Books are entering a new revolution just now. Nowadays it’s rare not to see in a flight someone with a Kindle or a Sony Reader. People don’t want to carry books around anymore. They want to have ALL their books and magazines in just one small device that they can carry around with them. Until now, reading on a light emitting screen was not a “healthy” solution to read a whole book but with e-paper things are going to change soon. I’m not saying that books or browsers will disappear tomorrow. I’m just saying that they will be in decay very soon and I question if companies like Google are ready for this.

      Another topic is how we will manage such huge amount of information out there. It’s obvious that we will not have one application per source of information that we are interested in. Check this concept firefox extension that uses the power of Semantic Web to navigate through information using a completely different approach:


      This is just a different way of navigating through semantic information (instead of pages) which I find is more closer to the way our brain works. The Semantic Web will transform the way we consume information and in the future WE will decide how we want to consume it.

      How to monetize raw semantic information then? Well… that’s the great business model we need to figure out before the Web 3.0 arrives. I have some ideas but I will keep them for a future post 🙂

      Thanks a lot AMH for sharing your thoughts!

  3. Why bother about all this? After seeing that video I became really depressed. Why bother developing all this nice, dreamy stuff for people who obviously don’t give a flying sausage about accessing the internet through a web browser or a VHS player?

  4. Chrome os claims that html5 would be used where every web application opens up in a browser, instead of downloading & installing every application, one can just open every application in a browser interface.

    But it may take some time as many have to make web based applications.

    • Hi John, I agree that HTML5 brings a lot of promises but when I think about the successful iPhone app model I realize that no HTML-based app can beat the power of a full-blown application. Probably we’ll see many lightweight apps built in HTML5 in the future but when you really need a great user experience nothing beats a traditional application. We’ll see what this exciting 2010 will brings us! 🙂

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