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Will Web 3.0 be all about apps?

April 6, 2010

For most of the last century, when you bought a thing, it did the thing you bought it for. TV‘s where for watching TV. Phones were for making calls. Cameras where for taking pictures. Fridges were for keeping things cold.

A couple of years ago on this blog I wrote a post called “The importance of the internet“. When people search “importance of internet”, my post is among the first hits, so it gets read a lot. In it I explained how the computer was the first of the things that did more than what we bought them for:

“My 2-year-old already thinks of it as a phone. She uses Skype to see her family. Other things we have names for like TV, Radio, phone, datebook, watercooler, atlas, game console….all these things no longer have one meaning. You can do it all online.

The computer can be, and already is a TV (where you can find programming that isn’t on TV), movie theater (check out Jaman), Radio (podcasts, ie radio shows from around the world, played anytime you want), phone (with camera), watercooler (Facebook). Next week, the computer might be something we only imaged — like a place to try on clothes that fit your avatar — with your friend from another time zone. Who knows?”

My 2-year old is almost a 4-year old, and things have moved really fast. As the iPad launches and mobile phones take off, it interesting to look at the two pieces of hardware. Take the mobile phone. At one point, the idea of a mobile phone was strange. If you look at the movie wall street, you can see Gordon Gekko carrying what looks like a small automobile in his hand.

As the phones got smaller, and the idea took off, so did the notion of the thing only doing one thing. Ergo, the Camera Phone. If you’re old enough to remember this developement, then you can remember some people explaining that a phone was a phone, and a camera was a camera. The joke was that adding a camera to a phone made for a crappy phone and a crappy camera.

Fast forward to today, and the camera phone has the hardware for an HD video camera on top of a really good camera. But more so, it has apps.

Apps are doing to the phone was “programs” did for the computer. Because deep down, Skype, Google Earth, Facebook, etc, the things that turn the computer into anything are really just apps. Apps turn phones into radios, datebooks, GPS devices, game consoles, confessionals, coupons, etc.

In a recent presentation, someone asked me what Web 3.0 might look like. To me, it looks like this:

If a phone can be turned into a camera through hardware and then turned into a photo editor through apps, why can’t a camera support apps? And if a camera can support apps, why can’t it be turned into a phone (Skype), photo editor, game console, etc?

Can your fridge tell you what it can make? Ie, can your fridge have a recipe app?

Is Web 3.0, or 4.0 really just things with apps? And when that happens, can the fridge app be brought to you by a food company?

Because when you strip it all down, programming turns a computer into other things. Apps are programs that turn a phone into other things. Can apps turn other things into other things?

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. April 7, 2010 12:28 pm

    I can see Nintendo adding a camera and editing software to the DS, and subsequently a browser so photos could be uploaded to social networking sites. Meanwhile it is used as an MP3 player and game console, with instant messaging to buddies within spitting distance.

    Your idea about the fridge displaying recipes is novel: I’m reminded of Milla Jovovich retrieving a roast chicken from the “microwave” in The Fifth Element.

    • April 7, 2010 12:45 pm

      Thanks for the comment.

      Good idea: Games would be perfect for social network apps. From filming adventures in WOW and sharing them, to simply sharing where one plays.

      A world with apps for many things is the world of minority report/fifth element, etc.

  2. April 11, 2010 5:22 pm

    That’s pretty insightful Great article.

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  3. November 22, 2010 6:27 pm

    Great article, I think that the answer is yes

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