Web 3.0: Services & Functionalities
Web 3.0 is being defined by Portable devices, Seamless connectivity, Data and Monetization
The beginning of the Internet in early 1990s was the Web 1 (though it is not referred to as such). People and companies created websites and we enjoyed the content. All Internet activity was one-way traffic in the sense that we were simply observers.
Then came Web 2.0. The hallmark of Web 2.0 was ‘interactivity’. In Web 2.0, Internet activity was a two-way traffic in the sense that we could give our views and opinions in the form of comments and/or without having to start our own websites. Some of the more famous features of Web 2.0 include search engines, blogs, social networking sites and file sharing.
The technology revolution started by computers and the Internet has been the fastest economic and social change experienced by humans. And it has only accelerated over time. It should be no surprise that in just over two decades since the beginning of the Internet, we are already on the verge of Web 3.0. In fact, it has already arrived with the advent of the Tablet Computers.
While still taking shape, the contours of Web 3.0 are already visible!
Let’s see, Web 3.0 will be 3D – the third dimension being services and functionalities (S&F). Web 3.0 will finally see the full-fledged monetisation of Internet through services and functionalities (S&F). Everything we do in the physical world will be possible in the virtual world. For a certain fee, though. And the most successful tech companies will be those which will make these S&F possible.
Web 3.0 will be all about services and functionalities (S&F); be it cloud-storage, website-building and -hosting, apps, banking, shopping, work, documentation, calling or chatting and conferencing. S&F will also be the single biggest revenue-earner in Web 3.0 - part of the reason why this phase will witness such a huge expansion of services and functionalities (S&F).
This article will focus on the revenue-potential of Web 3.0.
I] Portable devices and Seamless connectivity:
A key feature of Web 3.0 will be its availability everywhere. It will be possible to access Internet not just on select devices, but on all devices everywhere. That device can be in your car, bike, cycle or it can be any kiosk or in a public place. Web 3.0 will only be a-touch-away.
Amongst the first development which Web 3.0 will witness is a certain level of computing ability in devices. Examples include watches that store data to tubelights which can be operated on Bluetooth and cars which drive on their own.
Devices used by people will also undergo another curious variation. Till now, all devices worked individually. They had no need to synchronise with each other. However, Web 3.0 will witness a certain level of computing connectivity between varied sets of devices.
Seamless connectivity between all computing devices and all content will be an important feature driving Web 3.0. Tech companies will strive to ensure that their devices work with all content/data and are easily compatible with as many other devices as possible.
New standards will be developed for this compatibility and accessibility between tech and content companies. While USB 3.0 is catching speed, Bluetooth is finally realizing its potential. Bluetooth as a ‘connectivity and data transfer’ medium has been around for a very long time (most visibly on our cellphones to transfer small files). However, what hampered its large-scale usage was the lack of enough devices needing interconnection.
II] Data and Personalization:
Since the beginning of Internet, SEARCH for data has undergone a drastic change. The first one came with the advent of Google when search became truly global. The second one came with the advent of social networking websites when search became truly social. And now, search has gone beyond.
There are search websites which offer specific information. For example, there are websites which
sell tickets (movies, concerts) only
sell travelling tickets and plans only
do only bookings in restaurants
sell clothings only
sell only electronic devices
allow access to news with/without membership
websites which provide access to data through file transfer
In Web 3.0, we will use search engines to SEARCH for ‘sources of information’ (such as these above mentioned websites) rather than the data itself!
By default, such websites can provide personalized information without having to peruse through your personal conversations and activities on the Internet.
Web 3.0 will also see the rise of Internet Operating Systems, see earlier article - Tablet Computers: Evolution of the Operating System
The basic factors aiding this development include:
The Internet becoming ever better at handling all tasks of any computer and mobile phone; tasks ranging from data storage to installation and execution of all applications/software programmes/games
Internet data transfer speeds reaching newer heights with 4G and LTE technologies, allowing a transfer of data as fast as the current storage speed
More things to do on the Internet rather than on computers/mobile phones/laptops/tablet computers
More powerful and faster processing virtual hardware allowing easy access to heavy-duty applications like ever-newer games and graphics
Web 2.0 saw the Internet finally taking-off commercially despite remaining largely free for end-users.
However, this ‘freedom’ came at the cost of user-data being proliferated all over without the user’s knowledge. In return, the user received apparently useful ads.
Internet companies made revenue not just by selling this user-information, but also by displaying ads all over the web pages. User-information and ads have more or less been the sole revenue-earners for all Internet companies. However, increasingly stringent privacy-laws and un-ending campaigns by common people against such a proliferation will make this revenue-stream less desirable over the coming years.
Alternatives are already emerging and ‘user-data’ will shift from being the business-model of Internet companies, to being one of the revenue-streams of Internet companies.
The most important aspect of Web 3.0 will be its expansion into our social life. This is going to ensure that it will no longer be just the tech companies who will have a say in deciding the direction of technology.
Almost all services/functionalities available will be provided in-combination with another entity. Be it payments (banks involved), apps (individuals involved), entertainment (entertainment companies involved), government documents (Ministries involved), security software (anti-virus companies involved) or purely corporate applications like digital signatures.
This will lead to two questions being continuously resolved:
II] Among all the entities involved in the provision of a service/functionality, which entity plays how much of a role?
Let us study the case of mobile banking/payments for this purpose:
Currently, there are two types of mobile banking/payment facilities in use across the world. One is a GSM-based technique which works on short commands. It can be used on all mobile phones, does not require internet connection and is already very popular in the poor countries of Africa. This technology not just allows payments to be done through mobile, but also banking to be done through the mobile.
The other method is the NFC-based technology which works only on smart phones. It also requires relevant terminals to be installed at all shopping places. This technology is currently being taken-up in the rich Western countries. However, this technology allows only payments through mobile, and not banking.
While a standard model is still being reached in case of mobile banking and payments, there will be certain factors guiding these decisions. For example, telecom service providers can limit themselves to be only the enablers of the actual banking service and keep only the records of all transactions done. The customers will continue having their real bank-accounts with private and government banks, while conducting transactions through telecom service providers.
Or, telecom service providers can allow customers to open bank-accounts with them for all monetary transactions. However, this will increase the regulatory obligations on part of the telecom service providers.
On the other hand, simply being the enablers of banking services may lead to a curtailment of banking and payment freedom for the customer. This is likely to happen if banks and telecom service providers start entering into exclusive contracts. Such moves will result in customers being unable to carry-out inter-bank transactions and payments.
For quite some time now, we have been digitally ordering physical products. In Web 3.0, we will be ordering digital versions of physical products!
The ‘Google Books’ project is a good example in this regards. This project by Google allows digital copies of all books on the planet to be accessed at the click of a mouse. The user has to pay a certain amount for this access through a library system which then gets distributed amongst the various parties involved in bringing the book to you
We can already order soft copies of the movies and music that we are interested in. Going to a shop and buying CDs/DVDs is passé
We also have governments, companies and all sorts of offices providing more and more information through soft copy downloads on their websites, rather than going to their offices and standing in a queue
There was a time, about 5-6 years ago when apps written for the Nokia’s Symbian OS could be downloaded for free from several websites including Nokia’s own ‘mosh.com/mob’. However, Apple’s iPhone and Google’s Android OS have changed all of that. Now, we pay for those same apps which were earlier free!
Plus, the explosion in the number of services provided in the near future will stabilize the model of paying monetary fee. For examples of services/functionalities, see earlier article - Tablet Computers: Getting ahead of the curve
In the same way that apps saw a huge explosion in their numbers and usage, computing devices will also witness a huge rise in their number, variety and usage. While we are currently making devices as portable as possible, the next few years will see a variety of devices designed for specific purposes. For example,
A two-wheeler/bike still does not have a GPS system
We still cannot download songs/movies straight to our cars’ music system
Google is in the process of developing a refrigerator which keeps track of the quantity of food available and notifies us when an item needs to be replenished
For some more examples, see earlier article - Tablet computers: Aiming your ambitions
As noted before, the guiding principle behind these developments will be to bring the virtual world in to the real world. Seamless interconnectivity between these devices will be a continuous development.
And last but not the least:
Even as we are still just talking about the integration of the real and virtual world, there is a country and a field which is already actively achieving this integration. That country is Japan – should not be surprising. Japan was using handheld computing devices (smart phones) in the 1990s itself, about a decade before the world start doing so. For quite some time now, Japan has not only been a country where the sun rises first, but also a country where the latest technologies rise first -
And the field/technology that we are talking about is Robotics!
Robots are pretty much the highest conceivable point of the technology revolution. A robot is not just a computer, but also a phone, a game and a service provider with the highest and widest range of processing power and capabilities. It is the perfect technology device integrating the virtual and real world.
Robots fit pretty nicely in to the concept of Web 3.0 and they are already thriving in Japan. Robots offer a whole new dimension to the concept of services/functionalities delivered over Web 3.0 – and that is ‘domestic services’.
A note of caution though – robotics will be amongst the last trends to pick-up pace in Web 3.0.