Home Has The Web 2.0 Cycle Come to a Close? No

Has The Web 2.0 Cycle Come to a Close? No

The selection process for DEMOfall 08 (RWW is a media partner) is coming to a close and Chris Shipley has been blogging her thoughts about it. She’s identified a number of trends in the ‘class of DEMOfall 2008’, one of which is this claim: the Web 2.0 cycle has come to a close. She also makes a case for an end to the ‘free’ model for web businesses.

I’m not sure that I buy either argument.

After first dismissing the notion of ‘web 2.0’ (“Web 2.0 has been more of a hype cycle than a business cycle”), Chris Shipley goes on to say that the Social Web has nonetheless delivered a solid platform:

“But the social Web – the true definition, we think, of this most recent wave – has sparked tremendous innovation. It has given us the “operating systems” for social networks, the culture of conversation and engagement, the discipline of rapid and disruptive development, and the technology basis on which to build reliable, scalable Web applications. In short, it’s delivered a platform on which to build the next phase of the Web.”

It’s arguable whether there’s much difference between ‘web 2.0’ and the ‘Social Web’. We at ReadWriteWeb have been using both terms interchangeably over the past couple of years. But I do take Chris’ point that, whether you like the term web 2.0 or not, what we’ve ended up with is a solid Web platform for applications and services.

So what’s next? Chris identifies:

  • Distributed Web: “disseminating information and applications to the users where ever they may be – another Web site, a mobile device, a consumer electronics gadget.”
  • A Smarter Web: better information discovery.
  • Business Becomes Usual: defined by Shipley as moving beyond the ‘free’ model that consumer apps have practiced in the web 2.0 era, to apps for SME/enterprise and business models such as subscriptions for consumer apps.
  • Transparency: according to Shipley “this theme has echoed across every market segment and has become a byword in our thinking about the next-generation Web.”

The first two points (distributed and smarter) have been themes we’ve expanded on many times on this blog. Regarding distributed web, last week we wrote about how companies need to have a presence on all major platforms. And regarding a smarter web, an example is the emerging market for Semantic Apps.

So, no argument from us on the first two points.

Where I disagree is the notion that the ‘free’ model of the Web has ended or will end soon. Online advertising has been a very powerful business model for many, including of course the master of this Web era, Google. While I do agree that consumer apps should explore alternative business models too, in my view the statement by Chris that “free isn’t a business model” just isn’t true. Clearly ‘free’ has been a business model for many – and will continue to do so as long as the online advertising portion of the total advertising pie keeps growing (which it is forecast to).

And to the central question of this post: has the Web 2.0 cycle come to a close? Well if it has someone better tell O’Reilly Media and TechWeb 😉 To my mind, unless we see a significant change to the Internet market or the pattern of innovation we’re seeing (the Web as platform etc), the current era continues. But it continues to evolve – into semantic web, distributed web, and so on. That’s the exciting thing and it’s what keeps the creative juices flowing at RWW!

ReadWriteWeb is a partner of DEMOfall 08, being held September 7-9 in San Diego. Our readers can receive a discount rate of $2,395 ($600 off the standard rate of $2,995 and $400 lower than the July early bird rate of $2795) by clicking here for registration.

Image credit: hober

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