08/27

Is the Web Dead?

I didn’t even know it had a headache.

But so says WIRED magazine in its September cover story.

Here’s the heart of their argument:

Over the past few years, one of the most important shifts in the digital world has been the move from the wide-open Web to semiclosed platforms that use the Internet for transport but not the browser for display. It’s driven primarily by the rise of the iPhone model of mobile computing, and it’s a world Google can’t crawl, one where HTML doesn’t rule. And it’s the world that consumers are increasingly choosing, not because they’re rejecting the idea of the Web but because these dedicated platforms often just work better or fit better into their lives (the screen comes to them, they don’t have to go to the screen).

As this picture shows, the Internet is bigger than ever, but the Web is declining somewhat in terms of the volume of Internet traffic devoted to it.

Where is the rest?  In peer-to-peer, in video (which includes YouTube, something that ideally should fall under Web, it seems to me), and other types of apps which use the Internet for transport but do not use the Web browser.

WIRED adds:

Within five years, Morgan Stanley projects, the number of users accessing the Net from mobile devices will surpass the number who access it from PCs. Because the screens are smaller, such mobile traffic tends to be driven by specialty software, mostly apps, designed for a single purpose. For the sake of the optimized experience on mobile devices, users forgo the general-purpose browser. They use the Net, but not the Web. Fast beats flexible.

Even if WIRED is wrong about their case (it is, after all, in the interests of WIRED’s publisher, Conde Nast, to have mobile apps that showcase a curated experience for a profit), there’s no question that Internet-driven alternatives to the Web are growing.

Your Twitter app?  Your Facebook app?  Apps, all.

So what does this mean for radio, besides the obvious idea that you’d better be thinking in terms of apps?

It means, as Anderson writes, the future will be “less about browsing, and more about getting…our appetite for discovery slows as our familiarity with the status quo grows.”  In other words, give me services that make my life better and I’ll embrace them.  But don’t expect me to hunt for them.

Radio – especially that corner of radio heretofore called “News/Talk” – would seem to be ideally positioned to solve a problem for many consumers who might have one.  particularly if the information I want to “get” is related to critical issues facing my day:  Scores, weather, traffic, headlines, etc. Providing these values, however, is less about propping up our brands and more about showing the way to the solution of key consumer problems.

In other words, there should be an app for that.

And maybe there is – but not driven by the megaphone that is radio.

There may indeed be an app for everything, but how do you discover the solution to your particular problem?  How do can I “get” without browsing?

Maybe the answer is radio’s “megaphone.”

You can app your brand – or you can wrap an app around a solution to a problem.  The latter is the bigger win.

Hear WIRED’s Chris Anderson explain his argument in this interview with On the Media’s Bob Garfield:

(download the mp3 here)

* = required field

Dive Into The Blog