From native apps to closed platforms to messenger bots, there are many threats to the influence and long-term health of the web. But perhaps its not time to give up on the browser just yet: the web could be sufficiently flexible to find new roles and new opportunities in the technology landscape of today and the near future.
Presented at Front End Conf, Zürich
Senior C.T. at +rehabstudio
The realistic danger isn’t that the web
disappears, but that it gets marginalized.
In 2016, the still-vast and still-growing web is
comparatively diminished. Slightly newer
platforms, such as Instagram and Vine, hardly
touch it; Snapchat doesn’t even acknowledge it.
e.g. Myntra, Flipkart
At best, very annoying
And worse, tracking
Nearly one in two internet users say
privacy and security concerns have stopped
them from doing basic things online.
21% of smartphone users
block ads from mobile web.
2013 2014 2015 2016
Free, ad-supported isn’t sustainable
Having a legacy business configured
around a website is now almost as much
of a headache as the rumbling printing
press, fuelled by paper and money.
The New Day
Launched with no website.
The idea won’t be to start a website.
That will be dead.
The individual website won’t matter.
Running our own blog system is
a classic case of the cobbler’s
David Heinemeier Hansson
A lot of designers are still focused on
building websites and I'm not sure
that's a growth business anymore.
Mobile has fundamentally changed the
dynamics of how information is distributed.
New $ spent in US online advertising, Q1 2016
1.7bn monthly active users
Medium, Twitter, especially Facebook
A company that can claim nearly
every internet-using adult as a user
is less a partner than a context.
The new technologies of the 20th century
eventually evolved into privately
controlled industrial behemoths through
which the flow and nature of content
would be strictly controlled.
The Master Switch: The Rise and Fall of Information Empires
2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018
Social Media Messaging Internet
108m people in India
came online in 2015
864m not yet online
1 hour of minimum wage
Cost of visiting 15 web pages in India
Photo: Rupak De Chowdhuri / Reuters
Farmers of Myanmar
15% of avg. months income
For 1GB prepaid data in Myanmar
Photo: Lauren Leatherby / NPR
The telcos operate on pre-paid systems. Nobody
has a credit card. Everyone buys top-up from
top-up shops… They feel each megabyte.
Facebook has a compelling advantage over other
news apps or even Twitter: The content of many
posts and news items live inside Facebook itself.
Awareness of the internet in developing
countries is very limited. In fact, for many
users, Facebook is the internet, as it’s often
the only accessible application.
Internet users and Facebook users per 100 people
Myanmar Indonesia Philippines Thailand
The amount of content that lives in
Facebook will only increase. For those who
are data sensitive, this is a clear virtue.
Stories rendered in Facebook UI
Stories [shared on Facebook] take an
average of eight seconds to load, by
far the slowest single content type.
Instant Articles makes the reading
experience as much as ten times faster
than standard mobile web articles.
Rise of the meta platforms
and the new ‘web browser’
Many of the platforms on mobile are
choosing to host content within their
own app and this is a direct and
compelling threat to the web.
Canvas loads quickly, as much as ten times
faster than the standard mobile web.
Shopping & Services
In a way, Facebook [has] made the
browser wars irrelevant by essentially
itself becoming the browser.
The more it succeeds, the more Facebook warps a
universe of internet content, industry norms,
and consumer habits around itself.
Facebook in effect becomes the mobile internet.
Dominant Social Platforms
ஙמ (WeChat), Line, Kakao
Messenger, Kik, Slack
Messaging apps are the new browsers.
Daily and weekly use cases dominate the
apps that get downloaded and used. But what
about the software we use less often…
… the brands we may interact with once only
every few months, or spontaneously when we
don’t have a fast connection?
Messenger, Telegram, Skype
Messaging apps are the new browsers,
bots are the new web pages.
Apps in Messaging
iMessage, Allo, FB Messenger
Android Instant Apps
On-demand app fragments
Voice / No UI
Echo, Google Home
Wow… that was heavy.
Access method for mobile shoppers %
France Italy Spain UK Germany
The best way to reach new consumers
is through the open web.
While in the West companies are still
native-first (usually iOS-first), in China
the most important presence one may
have is a mobile-optimised website.
70% increase in conversions
from home screen icon
Progressive Web Apps
Engaging, Installable, Shareable, FAST
Technology does not have intrinsic value. It
has to deliver value by enhancing the way we
experience the world around us.
Pair with BLE devices
Choosing the web to enable experiences in the
physical world doesn’t just expand the possibility
space for IoT, it compels us to re-think the very
shape of the web…
… from a network of monolithic ‘destinations’
to one of small, non-linear, distributed, and
serendipitously discoverable (and ideally
Stephanie & Bryan Rieger
Oculus, Cardboard, etc
In the context of AR, equating the browser
to web is not only inaccurate but limiting.
If we are going to continue to use “the web” as
a label then it needs to represent a 20+ year
vision that transcends web browsers.
I don’t define “the web” as websites alone, but
rather as any user experience that’s delivered
across multiple channels and devices.
What if everything was powered by “The Web”,
but you never saw a browser?
Information unbundled from interface
Rich local discovery
Contextual actions expressed in site
Powered by the web
A containerized, embeddable article that
travels to any site with brand, revenue,
analytics, and links attached.
The universally accessible, multi-device and
multi-context web is there to enhance native
infrastructure — not the other way around.
The web we build today will be the
foundation for generations to come.
It's crucial we get this right.
I Am Peter Gasston