Is The Web Dead?

My friend Howard Lindzon DM'd me on Twitter last night. He asked if I would agree to be interviewed on Skype next week on a series he is doing titled "The Web Is Dead." When I saw the DM, I shuddered. My good friend the web is dead? No way.

But then I thought about a conversation I had with Saul Klein when I was in London a few weeks ago. Saul told me he is using the web a lot less and his iPad and iPhone a lot more.

I don't personally have that experience. I use the web more and more. I've moved most everything I do to the web from desktop apps. And on my Android phone, I mostly use the web browser. I have a few apps, but the browsing experience is so good on Android and so familiar to me. And on the iPad, I mostly use the browser and the Kindle app.

So the web is not dead to me. But if Howard is asking the question and if Saul is a case in point, it is a question we must get our heads around. Our firm invests in web services and they have been very very good to us.

In a board meeting yesterday, the founder said, "everything we do is cloud-based, with an API, and mobile friendly". He did not say "everything we do runs in a browser." So to me that means the Internet and the cloud is more important than ever. But the web browser as a platform may be losing some of its importance as it turns 18 and becomes an adult.

There are some aspects of the web that I will hate to lose. The first and foremost is links. If we are going to retire the web browser some day, we cannot retire links. They are what makes the Internet work. I also will miss the "write once read many" aspect of the web. Sure there are differences between the various web browsers out there but for the most part, when you write a web app it runs on most popular web browsers fairly well. That is very much not the case with all the various mobile environments that are emerging.

I am personally rooting for HTML5 to reverse this trend. But I hear that HTML5 is a few years away from where it can be the platform we all want it to be. I am very curious what the readers of this blog think about that.

As I was writing this post, I realized (courtesy of our portfolio company Zemanta's blogging tool) that Howard was inspired by a Wired piece penned by Chris Anderson called The Web Is Dead. A Debate. I will go read what Chris has to say on this. And most of all, I am curious what all of you think.


Comments (Archived):

  1. scottythebody

    The entire promise of the web is being realized, actually. Hypertext, well-formed documents, URLs, URIs and the ability to move messages between systems (syndication) is here. Now the browser can resume its well-earned spot as just another client. As long as good developers delivering the great experiences in these newly-minted “thick client” platforms adhere to the foundations, nothing about the web will change at all.

  2. David Semeria

    As in the browser is dead?To be replaced by platform-specific apps running mainly on smartphones and tablets?No way. The openness and universality of the browser will triumph in the end – even on mobile.

  3. RichardF

    I think HTML5 will reverse the trend and faster than people think. In my opinion Google will drive this, it’s in their interest to see that “the web” is open and that they can crawl all over it.Creating apps for each platform just doesn’t make sense. Our perception of what a browser is may change but I don’t believe the fundamentals will

    1. Dan Sweet

      Google has the most to lose to the growing popularity of the closed Apple and Facebook platforms. They need to lead with something disruptive to combat the trend that Howard is highlighting. It’s all about creating value for the consumer. FB and apps are doing that for people and the rest of the web is becoming irrelevant for many. I just bought ink from the Office Depot web site but if I could have conducted the same transaction over FB, that would have been fine for me.

      1. WVMikeP

        Google’s more of an advertising company than they are a search company. Search earns them nothing. The ads they serve with or in those search results does. Apps can provide an advertisement-free experience. I prefer that as a user. With that said, there’s room enough for both models.

        1. Dan Sweet

          Likewise, ads earn them nothing if they have nothing to search.

          1. WVMikeP

            The ads they serve on third-party sites aren’t dependent on their search site.

  4. Herve Lebret

    I agree there is a risk that the web may disappear. I ‘ve been using the internet since 1992 (telnet and ftp at the time!) and since 1997, the browser has probably been my main working tool (together with Office and Outlook). I have never been a big fan of Apple because it is a closed environment. The PC is not better but it is opened.As an example, I published a book on start-ups and I have a related blog. I just decided to have it available on Kindle and iPad. But I discover that in the Apple case, it is only available in the very closed iBooks environment and not even in my home country because of the Apple contract! And we all know teh Kindle is not very opened either.I do not have a smartphone, and the PC/web is still my main work and home tool. But with my new iPad, I begin to see a shift. If the web is dead, we are in trouble; it gives me back images of Fahrenhet 451 (the movie by Truffaut more than the book!) and we may need to resist and preserve an open framework.I cannot believe the web is dead, I hope not, but I see why some think so…

  5. akharris

    I don’t think the web is dead, but I think, like anything else that grows, it is changing. I think that, for many people, it is becoming a far more centralized experience.One big signpost there is the re-AOLization of a large section of content through Facebook – during the World Cup, Adidas didn’t even bother advertising their site, they constantly promoted their Facebook page. This is completely anectdotal, but people I see using the internet are focusing their attention on fewer domains, which have become larger, and increasingly self-referential. It feels a bit more like a series of mini-webs that are used for individual purposes (this is social, this is news, this is where I buy things). You simply bounce around to the one you need at a given moment.Of course, I’d argue that’s exactly what happened before, and I’m pretty sure I’ve seen this discussion here earlier, albeit in different form. Habits change over time, and accompany paradigm shifts in how we view/access/store/manipulate information. But is the web dead? Doesn’t seem like it based on how much time people spend on it.

  6. Chris Selland

    Depends how we define ‘the Web’. I agree completely that app developers are somewhat held back by what is (and isn’t) possible within the browser, but as you say Cloud computing is absolutely booming.The browser is not ‘dead’ but it’s becoming the least-common-denominator client. One of the primary reasons I dumped iPhone for Android was frustration that important apps (Google Voice for instance) – while they ‘run’ in a browser – just don’t offer the same richness as they do with a dedicated client app.HTML5 plus advanced browsers (like Chrome) might help – but I suspect that app developers are going to remain at least one step ahead – particularly in their desire and need to differentiate themselves.On the back end, however, Cloud is clearly ascendant – and only becoming more so. If anything’s ultimately ‘dead’ – it’s the in-house data center.

  7. jonsteinberg

    I didn’t expect to find the Anderson piece as compelling as I did. It’s a lot of food for thought. I agree with the appification argument, find the concentration of web media argument less compelling but scary given where I sit.

  8. andyswan

    I’m guessing that once we have a well-adopted (that’s the challenge) browser that works everywhere, it’ll be the platform-specific apps that die. Everyone wants to build and support once, and customers like that too….so that’s where it will go.Hopefully someone (likely GOOG) comes out with a browser/platform that is immensely profitable…that’s what will drive the next big move.p.s. I can’t believe we are discussing getting the Fed Govt in charge of ISPs when we don’t even know the answer to this most basic of questions about the future!

    1. Aviah Laor

      This is the key.When the browsers finally succeed to catch-up with the Windows desktop apps UI, people moved to the web. The iPhone/iPad put a new bar to cross, maybe a new generation of browsers.For a start, why not dispose CSS? An innovative browser that locates elements – lo and behold – always on the same place! A feature that any visual IDE provides for years (starting with VB in the previous century)

    2. stevenwillmott

      I don’t think it will happen quite like this: full page web browsing is what seems to be threatend (and all those advertising revenues). Apps are currently moving in to this territory and I doubt this will stop – but what’s happening is that those apps are powered by APIs – which you build once.So I think there’ll be a convergence – maybe to something like HTML, but most likely to something more API like and then a ton of different ways to consume this content (most of which wont be a full web page experience).

    3. ninakix

      Platforms are still in their early stages, and I think, apps are generally used when people care highly about the content – when I look around, I have a Adium (chat) and twitter open, and the rest is all accessed via the browser. Apps are actually a hinderance in most cases – why do I have 41 pending app updates on my iPhone? Because I don’t really care about those apps, but they happen to be the most comfortable way to access content on my mobile. Hopefully this will change, and HTML 5 will catch up, so I don’t have to do this anymore.It would be interesting to see what percentage of users download say, more than 10 or 15 apps in a year. I’m wondering if the app-downloading frenzy is mostly a techie thing, and more normal people only download a few apps they use to access the data they want and done. You’d have to compare this to their willingness to try new services online, something I’d guess they’re more likely to do if they’re already there [at the webpage]. If this is the case, that’s not great for app developers – they may be making money now, but if people aren’t experimenting as much, they’ll ultimately have a harder time profiting in a big way. As an aside, one of the more interesting things I run is Fluid (, so I can easily get to my email and calendar. This makes the browser app-like, which is interesting. Esp. b/c Steve Jobs originally wanted all of iPhone to be web apps.

  9. mydigitalself

    I’ve been thinking a lot about this, even before the attention grabbing article in Wired came out. Being in technology strategy a lot of friend & family often ask me “what’s next” or what’s the future of the internet.Recently I’ve started saying that The Internet is dead – mainly for an initial provocation which gets stares of disbelief at which point I’ll start saying how in the future we won’t *notice* the internet anymore. It will be so pervasive that we’ll take it for granted the same way we take modern sewage or utilities for granted.I think the same goes for “the web” and indeed how we define “the web”. Does http = the web? If so then apps making calls over http = the web. Today I can and do experience Facebook, Gmail, Twitter, Foursqaure on my mobile phone, is that the web?What I do know is that mobile as a whole has become more important than the web. Whether that experience is delivered as a thicker app or in a browser starts boiling down to semantics and technology decisions rather than the experience or user benefit as a whole.So in short: who cares? It’s the connected world that is very far from dead.

  10. Anurag

    We are a company based on the premise that Cloud Computing and Smartphones are the future. We have been lucky to be at the right place. While people may take positions like ‘The Web is Dead’ to generate buzz, we do not think that it is dead at all. Infact it is growing to grow, and grow exponentially.The desktop based ecosystem is moving to a internet based one, and the Web is going to grow bigger, forget about being dead.Design by committee is dead, the power of ideation has moved to the consumer and smaller developers and has been democratized, anyone can build web apps and native apps and find a ready marketplace for them. The Cloud infrastructure is enabling people to think and invest in ideas and not infrastructure.

  11. OurielOhayon

    Howard probably likes provocative headlines. But the reality is that the Web is getting now accessed from multiple device type but also from multiple entry point. The browser was traditionally the only entry point except for communication services based on software (mostly email, IM and backup services). But the mobility is redesigning this and the apps are becoming little browsers in their own way.The web seems dead to certain platforms and to certain contexts.I am one of those weirdos accessing more and more the web from the iPhone and iPad when i am not at the office. But even there i always have 3 screens open in front of me. doing 3 different things at the time..Sometimes even checking emails both on my computer on gmail and emails on my ipad!I have no doubt this conversation with howard will go deep.

  12. dave

    Fred, I think people are perhaps making the same mistake here they were making when they said a certain really simple syndication format that I love was similarly deceased.When I dug into what they were thinking they were really saying that Google Reader wasn’t working for them anymore, that they were getting their news other ways, through Twitter (sure you’re glad to hear that) and Facebook and elsewhere.So they’re using an unfortunate shorthand. They don’t know that RSS is behind the flow of news everywhere, and it’s so dug into the infrastructure that they’re likely to find pipes containing RSS under the streets of NY in 250 years when they’re putting in the next generation of network wiring.Same with the web. Okay we’re branching out of the browser. That’s a good thing! The richness of the operating systems has been pushed aside in favor of the incredible networking power of the browser, but that doesn’t mean the web is passing on. The web is about the links between our ideas and work, and between people. If you read the stuff we were all writing in the mid-90s as the web was booting up, there was never an assumption that it would all happen in the browser. I doubt if TBL believed for a minute that it would.Regardless, I’m typing this in a browser, even though in the window behind me is a much more powerful text editor that hooks into all my infrastructure. I’m typing it here because I want to communicate with you and your readers, and this is how I do it.My guess is that you’re reading this in an email app on some portable device, and you’ve been doing that for a long long time, long before anyone said the web is dead.So is there any news here?Welllll, sheez, of course not. That’s not what Wired does. 🙂

    1. RichardF

      it’d be nice to get TBL’s view

    2. andyswan

      “That’s not what Wired does.” What a great comment.Wired sells headlines in airport bookstores. The content stuff on the inside is just backfilled to keep returns to a minimum. It really shouldn’t be driving the convo.

    3. Julien

      Can’t agree more with you Dave (and specifically with the points about RSS feeds :p). And I think we’re headed toward a web that is available in more places, on more devices… Of course mobile matters more and more, but everything in the mobile apps that I use works because they’re connected to the web. Words With Friends is certainly 10000x better than any single-user scrabble mode. Dropbox wouldn’t be nearly as useful if it was just to store stuff on my phone and the twitter app would be useless if it was only “offline” and needed me to sync to iTunes.A good analogy is that i barely use the iTunes app on my iphone (just checked and I have 2 songs there), while I keep using Spotify! Guess which one is connected to the web?

    4. NICCAI

      The headline alone is a testament that the web is, in fact, not dead. It’s decidedly sensational to not only spur conversation but also generate linkbacks – kind of ironic. That said, I think the general idea is that consumption patterns are changing. The average joe may not understand what the web is now, and I think the new model of consumption is blurring the lines even further – so to Mom and Pop, the web might be dead. The desktop browser is certainly no longer the only (or even main) entry point to the information superhighway. We’ve exponentially increased the (for lack of a better word) distributed-ness that is the web by distributing not only data and connection points (sites) but also devices and user interfaces. The web is simply less of a something and more of an everything. A better title would have been “The Web is Ubiquitous.”

    5. fredwilson

      i read your comment on the web dave, but you are right that i most often read them via email

  13. Mark Birch

    Web is not dead, but the nature of what we call a “browser” is changing. The proliferation of apps on mobile platforms and new destination sites like Facebook and Twitter has distracted us somewhat, but the essential truth behind these apps is that the most useful of the lot do not live within their own silos. The linked nature of the Web is informing and adding value to apps, in turn these apps enrich the experience that the web alone cannot offer. So as we move from the Web to the Cloud, we are not really leaving behind the Web, we are simply adding more ways by which we use the Web and giving the experience a new name.Just as email still reigns for communications despite IM, SMS, Twitter, etc, the same holds true of the Web as it evolves.

  14. @steveplunkett

    i agree with you… the internet is MORE important than ever.btw… THE SKY IS FALLING = the web is dead, seo is dead, google is dead, twitter is dead, etc..when i am looking for a location of a particular business and i whip out my Android based phone, the database i am searching is… THE WEB.. =)

  15. mediaeater

    I fear this is part of the same conversation as DRM/Copyright control, ‘walled gardens’ and ‘subscription services” and Net neutrality. As the need to monazite content and copyright gains real traction based in necessity (and capitalism) the tactics in doing so will be more and more contained (apple, apps etc) this partially account for the increased alternate methods of accessing the net.Fred touches on what he would not want to loose and for me the same applies, I still want to be able to navigate to source. Yes some people might like a weather widget on the phone or others might like going to or an aggregator who do an amazing job, I might like to navigate over to both, or more importantly have the flexibility to go over NOAA and get it from root. I certainly dont want an app for each of those experiences.The trend line in the graph that supports ‘the net is dead’ view is a view of types of traffic transversing the grid. I have not looked at it a bit but if I recall the spark line that represented Torrent traffic waned hard. A direct result of restricting their protocols traffic (net neutrality implications will be even bigger in a non web or lesser web browser client world).Music is a good example of how content is platform and protocol agnostic and will flow from place to place based on ease of access, supply and functionality and illustrates one of the behavioral changes and drivers the ‘web is dead’ p.o.v.As the billion dollor subscription services market emerges (or media companies hope emerge) and walled gardens return under the guise of $15 dollar a month subscriptions to newspapers etc they will need to be delivered in more controlled environments than the ‘world wide web’The web will never really die, clients and protocols change, but as it becomes a relic like Archie and Gopher the loss of being able to access naked information and the wild wild (wild!) west opportunity will be more and more a thing of the past. The net I knew in the early 90’s could look like an extreme outpost on the grid in a couple of decades, it can happen, lets hope not.I really should not post before having coffee.


      Agreed that all of the above converges around monetization (if monazite is the pre-coffee spelling?)Necessity is the mother of invention. For the media industry to break out of its current funk, it is necessary to disrupt the ambiguity created by the decline in demand for advertising by consumers and advertisers which “free” media relies upon.There’s a lot of talk about the anticipated loss of free media. But this is the same ambiguity as mourning the loss of a friend who has been suffering from a disease. On the one hand you miss what the friend was before they suffered, but you are relieved you don’t have to stand by and watch them suffer anymore.Recently I posted on Huffpo about innovation being about turning a loss into a positive . . .”A purpose which aims to vindicate a loss and maintain the status quo will not motivate people to take action. Probably because, intuitively, most people know that when there’s a loss it is futile to try to restore the status quo.To motivate people to adopt a purpose that is bigger than “me,” it takes a more positive vision.”http://www.huffingtonpost.c…Here’s to hoping a positive purpose will engage the investment needed to develop something worth paying for.Katherine Warman Kern@comradity

    2. fredwilson

      yes you shouldi reblogged the money quote on

  16. T Davis

    The web is dead, long live convergence.I suppose this is true. I find myself less and less on the web too, well relatively. But I never was a twitter, friendfeed, 4square fanatic. Pointless meets unimportant mostly. Since neither of these currenly has an economic model, we should be surprised? As I see it, it’s opportunity. Usefullness gets its 15 minutes finally.

  17. im2b_dl

    Fred as the guy who is in the middle /center of tv/web integration ( transmedia integration) …and building content for the integrated home/living room… I thought the article was so short-sighted and wearing blinders it was baffling. The hours people (the general population) spend on tv now… combined with the hours they spend of free time on the web… is going to land on one platform as it’s hub. and that is a multi-function (independent, open, extension savvy and HTML5 fluent) browser.(and that is interoperably designed for transparency over the cable/dish signal). It will need to include “intramural and intermural search” for many reasons…not one of which is the ability for every element of video to live or be “dormant direct” in story architecture. The walls that web development can sometime put around their theories…really show sometimes they don’t realize their walls are not the horizon.imho


      There are tools. And then there is a reason to use tools. We haven’t even begun to explore the breakthrough ideas which will create reasons to use the tools. And by doing so create value and revenues no one ever imagined. The internal combustion engine was invented long before the car. Wouldn’t be surprised if the inventors gave them away. I imagine after the car was invented, demand for internal combustion engines grew the price and revenues of internal combustion engines exponentially. Not because consumers wanted an internal combustion engine. Because consumers wanted the freedom to get where they wanted to go fast, without relying on someone else to get them there. How much longer are we going to tinker with the engine before all the investment and creativity go into inventing reasons to use it? People don’t live, work or have fun online. They do it on many dimensions. Always have. This isn’t new. For example, Word of Mouth has always been going on, long before Twitter or blogs existed.If you want to monetize Twitter, consider the reason why individuals hang out around the water cooler talking about the television show they saw last night. It certainly isn’t because they think they are going to change the plot of the future episodes. UPDATE: just read a tweet from the Privacy Identity Innovation “conference” which raises another hint to the reason for inventing something beyond the web : @jdp23 great Q from audience: to what extent are we no longer free to be ourselves when everything is public? K–

      1. im2b_dl

        although allowing people to do that is one way to make money… opening up the “internal markets in story/content” is another… It will be independents who do this… not the networks, the studios…or Google, Apple or any other behemoth…there is a problem with having scale and signatory status’ … It is the storybuilders imagination that will lead how a searchable interface that goes through the center of what you are watching and out into both the real world and the virtual one…who will lead those innovations.

        1. COMRADITY

          Agree.That’s why we believe it is both socially important and valuable to build an ecosystem for story builders and others who are the fuel for ‘cultural community’ to overcome the scale problem.See this huffpo post on the disappearing creative class: http://www.huffingtonpost.c

  18. mediaeater

    unrelated lexicon play (re web is dead – now the dead web)As we emerge in the real-time web the whole rest of the web is the ‘dead web’ (info/databases etc) as will be the ‘internet of things’ (also dead) only our behaviors are alive (twitter, activity streams etc)sorry can’t help myself today.

  19. mfolgs

    The opening line by OReilly to Anderson in The Web Is Dead. A Debate mentions facebook being a challenge to the web, which I’m not sure is true any more. I was having a conversation with @sama about whether to build a facebook app or not for a new product and we concluded that facebook themselves are deemphasizing the app platform in favor of fbconnect. So much so that it is a better user experience to link outside of facebook and sign up for another service using fbconnect than it is to install an app if you require user names other than facebook. And with the rise of twitter, public IDs are a must. I get most of what I would get being a fb app from connect and the fb news feed drives traffic to my “open” web site. I’m not sure that I would include facebook in this debate because the app platform is less important than the news feed, which is a positive for the open web.I do agree with Anderson that the mobile app ecosystem is eroding the “open” web, even more than people realize. Coming from the start of my career with 5 years at OpenTV where MSOs were gate keepers between software and end users to the last 5 years building websites where there is no barrier between you and the world, I ache in the pit of my stomach to have to ask permission from apple to reach my end users.

  20. taylorwc

    I agree with most of your sentiments–the web feels far from dead, at least for me. Especially with mobile, it seems like HTML5 would only get us part of the way. At least one missing component to the mobile browser is the extension. All of the webkit based browsers on a desktop have these capabilities. If Apple finds a user-friendly way to migrate extension capability to Safari in iOS, and Google supplements Android’s browser with the same functionality, there’s not a whole lot of advantage that a native app would still have over the browser.

  21. falicon

    You mentioned it in your post a little already, but I would say that most of the mobile stuff is really just a temp. diversion until they can get their environments more seamlessly integrated with the web…almost all the stuff I’m doing in mobile right now is powered with a web-based api on the backend (and I only do the GUI in the native mobile environment because for now it offers the best/easiest experience for the user).As a developer I don’t see the web going anywhere but up…I think the trick is just that it’s becoming a hidden layer to many consumers (awesome news for your investment strategy)…but slowly and surely everything is working towards being powered by a web-based API ( I offer up this web-based toaster as evidence:… ).

  22. Danny Strelitz

    They have been saying that the email is dead for years, so is the paper books…IMHO there is no web or mobile, there is knowledge and the ways we consume it in different ways.Its really like the spoon in the matrix – there is no spoon. There are many gateways today to the content that enable us to use it, create it, or share it, and apps are a part of it, so is the web browser. Saying the web is dead in this consequence is saying don’t invest time and money in web applications but invest in the new fashion – mobile apps, and that is a bit far fetched since most of the web applications as well as the mobile application are about content and content is still king 🙂

    1. falicon

      or to put it in more current movie terms…the top keeps spinning… 🙂

  23. @billg

    Dave nailed it.The web’s not dead; the plumbing just keeps evolving.

  24. Dan Cornish

    Apps are dead! HTML 5 will negate most of the reason to create native apps and then will solve the multi-platform development nightmare. HTML 5 will allow native app-like responsiveness, local data store and ease of development. I know quite a bit about this as we had built a number of native iPhone apps and it was very expensive, and difficult getting through the approval process.Android, iPhone and New browsers all support html 5 now. Therefore, with new javascript frameworks coming out to speed development, native apps will be relegated to graphic intensive games, and very specialized apps taking advantage of specific hardware. but HTML5 will interact with hardware today and will soon have more hooks to hardware. For instance, the GPS is available to HTML 5 apps.App development is too hard. The web is dead, long live HTML 5

    1. falicon

      here’s my only problem…something either does or it does not…HTML5 is already here and it does not remove the need for native apps…yes it has the potential to do it, and yet it does not do it (so my argument would be that it likely never will)…I think it’s a step in the right direction, but I don’t think HTML5 in itself is the native app killer (I think something that comes out of the HTML5 efforts is the more likely app killer candidate).

  25. Dave Broadwin

    A good headline always overstates the case, but the point remains none of us really know where the internet is headed next. This lack of knowledge is a good reason to retain net neutrality.

  26. brisbourne

    Hi Fred – two observations.First I agree about HTML 5 not being quite there yet. I recently tried and gave up on Google’s HTML 5 implementations of maps and YouTube on my iPhone. I’m now back with the native apps. They are just a bit faster (less functionality, but enough).Second – the efficiency of the web will triumph on mobile as it did on the fixed internet provided that hardware gets commoditised in the same way as the desktop pc. Android is on a roll and I think the Apple ‘app era’ will go down in history as a quirky period early in the web.

    1. fredwilson

      i sure hope you are right

  27. JimHirshfield

    I haven’t seen the data, but my guess is that the web is growing, not dying. Apps on the Internet, and growth outside of the WWW may be growing faster. And so many people are spending more time on the Net in total, while their time on the Web remains flat or grows at a slower pace. I see it as the pie getting bigger. In my case, I killed the cable TV service and stream everything now. So that means I’m on the net more, but I don’t think I’m on the web less as I use it exclusively for my email, cal, and increasingly docs.

  28. MartinEdic

    The problem with Apps is that they are platform-specific. The advantage with browser-based is they are agnostic to the device being used. If I go the App route I have to build and maintain/upgrade multiple versions. With browser-based I have one set of standards and can drive new versions to all users anytime. This is old stuff but really the driving reason why cloud services have replaced desktop services. I’d argue that as connectivity becomes ubiquitous and HTML5 comes into its own, the Internet gets more powerful, not less. Apps may be a temporary model.

    1. Healy Jones

      I agree with you Martin. My company now has an iPad app (but not an iPhone one) and also a Windows desktop downloadable app (but not yet a Mac one; working on that.) And it is a pain to develop for all these different platforms. All of these apps connect into our cloud based service.But the crazy thing is that our downloadable/installable apps are growing like mad! Our customers love them, in particular our ScanDrop download that connects their desktop scanners to our cloud service and others like Google Docs and Evernote. (It lets you scan to the cloud + do some minor PDF edits without opening a browser.) What started as a quick MVP test has forced us to rethink our model. It really seems that cloud computing users want to click something on their desktop to get started – and it isn’t a browser.

      1. MartinEdic

        Yeah, that trend is there but I suspect it will fade as browser-based apps get better. It is hot now. There is a parallel discussion going on in eBook publishing. Some publishers are publishing books as apps, others publish for the various reader platforms but there is no common standard- ePub should be but it is implemented differently for various platforms. The reason we don’t read books in browsers is all tied to connectivity, the ‘airplane problem’. When the airplane problem goes away, apps go away, IMHO.

        1. Healy Jones

          Two months ago I was 100% in agreement with you, but since seeing the aggressive adoption curve of our downloadable stuff I’m pretty confused. Apps as a meme may just be a short term thing as HTML5 gets better – although for my business I had thought that the “browser only” experience was already good enough. I guess I’ve been thinking about this (and confused) for a while; I blogged about how odd it was that I used so many mobile apps a while ago:…There is something to be said for the speed + ability to connect to local peripherals that apps provide. Plus the bandwidth/connectivity issue you highlight with the eBook example. Maybe the Wired article should have been “the app is dead long live the app”…

          1. PhilipSugar

            Good thread.I would say this. The consumer doesn’t give a shit if we have to support multiple devices and OS’s etc.They want whatever it is you are trying to deliver to work best for that device. If you don’t deliver that experience somebody else will.Lets take an example. I want an app that runs on my Android phone that checks me in for a USAir flight, stores the boarding pass, and makes it easy to get into the club. No, I don’t want it to be a stripped down website, yes I want it to work, there are many other people out there with iPhones that want the same thing. Am I going to switch to an iPhone? No because AT&T doesn’t have reception at my house and even though many declare the phone dead as well, its a tool that I will use for a long time.The two holy grails of computing are: if I could only write this once and it would work everywhere forever, and non programmers can code.I don’t see us finding either one and if we do a bunch of us are going to be out of work.Now the internet has provided us with a ton of value. Its my job to manage mirrored databases, load balancers, processing nodes, web service nodes, web server nodes, failover switches, etc. The end user just wants it to work seamlessly.

          2. fredwilson

            this consumer caresbut maybe i am not your average consumer

          3. PhilipSugar

            You are certainly not an average consumer. I live where not owning a pickup truck is unacceptable…I do.I had a great professor at Wharton that would make us raise our hand at normal and show us how we were less than 1% of the population.We should embrace that… happy it’s not too easy otherwise we wouldn’t have a job.

  29. Steven Kane

    Wired is brilliant in creating tempests in teapots (and not much else, IMO)What I’d like to see is a story entitled “Tech Stories with ‘Dead’ in the Title Are Dead”25 years into the BB/ICQ/text/email era… and the regular postal mail ain’t dead yet70 years into the TV era… and radio ain’t dead yetHeck, the telegraph ain’t even dead yetAt a very fundamental level, the browser is the model — “apps” are just locked-down, tuned browsers (with a brilliant revenue model, eg iTunes et al)the web is dead… long live the web!

  30. Nuke Goldstein

    According to Morgan Stanley’s Marry Meeker (“State of the Internet”) by 2014 more users will use the Internet using the mobile than desktop. As someone who’s been using desktops since the early age of 7 this was a blow in the head. As a software designer and developer for 20 years this prompted a dramatic change in my thinking and innovation. On one hand are the “let’s put the kitchen sink” type applications on the other are mobile apps where “focus! less is more” type of thinking is needed. To do this right is almost an art. Whether the Web is dead or not I do not know, but I know there’s a shift in how user experience is and should be dealt with by developers.

  31. David Noël

    Anyone remembers Facebook/RWW-gate? Sure, apps, iPhone and iPad apps are big. However, Wired’s headline made me remember Andrew’s post the other day about “Observing the typical internet user”:http://thegongshow.tumblr.c…Sounds like Wired needed a couple of clicks to reach their monthly metrics 😉

  32. tobowers

    The web is far from dead. There’s always going to be room for native and web. And Rob says/shows how good that wired graph is:

  33. kagilandam

    If web is dead what are we all doing with the dead?But web is defenitely getting injured. Now there are more means to get information not just the web. YOY growth may have got slowed down. But is never going to be dead.If web is dead then so are the other parasitic apps sitting on top of that. There is this great property of parasites they cannot live on their own….so web will never be dead.Having said that. Web is getting into ventilator-stage for common man…until someone jumps and pumps up the oxygen into web (GOOG?).

  34. howardlindzon

    in DM’s it is sometimes har to get a point across. I believe I had added a smiley face to the tweet Fred.I used to walk around and tell people the web is a fad. It was so wrong it felt hip. If it’s dead, it can’t be a fad. So I need to move to the web is dead now. That will be the new hip.The web is not a fad, or not dead, but good headlines breathe life into any story and written by people with enough influence, create great topics of conversation.I will post my thoughts when the ambien wears off, which I took after asking you the question late last night.

    1. fredwilson

      i’m looking forward to our conversation howard

  35. jonathanmendez

    The web dies when Search dies. Since Search fulfills innate human needs I think there’s nothing to worry about until the robots take over.

    1. fredwilson

      great comment

    2. Prokofy

      The problem is, you search so much less on your phone because the screen is dinky and hitting the links is hard.You tend to ask on social networks and click around on the Foursquares and the Yelps, instead of searching the old way on Google.So, search will change.

  36. Gerardo

    i think you are exactly right when you say that the browser as a platform might be showing signs of age, and perhaps that is what the associate with ‘the web’ which is really a piece of the Internet. The Internet is definitely not going away.

  37. GlennKelman

    My favorite comparison of HTML5 vs. native applications comes from Sasha Aickin, the leader of Redfin’s search experience on mobile and web platforms:…Redfin wrote a native iPhone application, but will probably try to write an HTML5 version of our site for Android.What has most surprised me about about the resurgent popularity of native applications is how much developers love writing them:

  38. William Mougayar

    Is Air is dead too? We don’t see it, we can’t touch it. We can only smell it, but if you don’t inhale it, you’re dead.I think people are confusing the Web with the Internet, although for several users- “who cares?”.The Internet is becoming more and more invisible, because it’s operating as as infrastructure. The Web is just evolving, and is having a ton of stuff added to it, as “Value-Add”, and these Value-Add points are becoming the entry points, relegating the Web more and more to the middle-ground (I won’t say background).For some new users, enough has been pushed to the outside that this creates the illusion of not accessing the Web. So if you’re on FB and Twitter and live on your iPhone, you’re not sitting at a desk, but who is serving those thousands of mobile Apps? THE WEB!Ok, I’m entering my 50’s. OMG, my 40’s are dead! So what! The Web is evolving, and Wired and others will keep writing catchy headlines- that’s their job. However, Tim O’Reilly’s thoughts in that piece are right on.

  39. Edwin

    The web became ubiquitous because of hyperlinks and a standard that people could program to and share (view source). The web came closer than any previous technology to write once run everywhere and it did it while pushing version control from the client to the server – an awfully big deal. Mobile apps are delivered a little better than desktop apps and they can have more native capabilities but they are a huge step back in the ways just mentioned. Mobile apps have traction for the simple reason that Steve Jobs can control that eco-system but as the web experience gains more native capabilities, it will prevail over the huge retrograde that mobile apps in fact are.

  40. baba12

    When large swaths of society are still eking out a living on $1 a day mobile communications and computing platforms are the lifeline to getting these folks out of the poverty traps they are in.If delivering education, healthcare and market information at low costs is achievable using these platforms then the Web as we know it on the Big screen platforms maybe considered a niche ( not dead).Most people in the world don’t have access to energy intensive devices such as the computer.If and when they are capable of getting a device, most folks are getting a mobile phone ( not smart phone).Applications that take advantage of these basic devices are what will define the next 15 years in the larger world outside of Western Europe and America.I don’t forget the days when we could write programs that ran on 2K of memory on processors 1/4 the power of what is available today on the mobile platforms.So possibly the web as we have come to accept will remain in effect in the US and Europe elsewhere mobile small screen basic phones will serve up relevant information and that may be something we shall adopt as we find ourselves having higher debt servicing costs than the revenues we bring in as a nation.

  41. Venkat

    This seems to be a classic “August Meme” on the part of Wired: attempting to drum up news in a traditionally somnolent month.That said, I think the debate actually has legs. It has already caused a big flood of reactions. I’ve collected what I’ve found so far in my The Web is Dead Meme trail. I haven’t yet sorted through and organized the reactions properly though.Some are reacting to the data sleight of hand in the anchor graphic (showing proportional changes rather than absolute, and lumping YouTube with Video and out of the Web for instance). The “true” version of the graph that BoingBoing produced for instance, shows that overall traffic is skyrocketing and the Web’s share is also increasing exponentially.Even with those corrections though, I think the argument (in its less dramatic “the browser is dead” form) has legs for two reasons:1. For app agnostic content, the browser will just be one of many ways to access content, and often not the preferred way. For YouTube for instance, if it is true (I don’t know) that most access is happening via non-browser apps, it DOES make sense to assign that traffic to apps.2. Throwing out the browser might be the “nuclear option” in the battle against information overload. Almost everything else we’ve tried has failed or only succeeded marginally. Replacing the main “firehose” medium (the browser) with a universe of more targeted information delivery media might be inevitable.And it’s not unprecedented. Remember Lynx? Netscape replaced it for a reason. There is no holy law that says Thou Shalt Not Kill the Browser.

    1. lindsayronga

      Believe there’s a generational effect going on here as well. Millennials are more likely to access content via apps whereas Babyboomers will access the content through their browser. As the younger generations grow up, we may see more of a shift in apps and mobile/iPad, etc. Goodbye desktops for one thing. As the younger generations become more comfortable with apps, the ‘web’ could become less important. Die? That’s extreme.

  42. maverickny

    Ironically I read the Wired post using Safari on a friends iPad… so no, I don’t think the web is dying at all, although the ways in which we use it are transforming. Most of my consumption is now on a laptop, an iPhone or an iPad – it’s years since I used a desktop PC daily or read a real daily newspaper for that matter.

  43. ShanaC

    The browser may not have evolved enough.One of the really interesting questions about why we are using Apps the way we are4 have to do with the innate structure of browsers. So we’re returning to an old computing model of client-server based on small applications and stand-away computers to compensate. That’s a revolution that can again be shifted in the other direction. There is no dictate out there that our model of browsers and what they serve up to use will be what they will be. Past performance is not a prediction of future performance. At some point, if the browser market feels itself as hurting, it will get (parts) of its mojo back.Another big part of this recipe is that it is much more effecient (from a buyer-seller point of view) to place display advertisements on ad exchanges if there is regularity between products, such as those of browsers. I expect that market to radically change and grow from what we have now, as both the information gets better, and as creative finally takes a bigger role (because publishers are sick of crappy ads, and I am surprised more brands who want a premium presence on a premium website aren’t as well) If you think Facebook will be the end all be all of Display, you’re wrong: we’re overhyping the situation, and someone in some garage is going to eat Faceboook for display, especially for a quality display, alive.Further, the App market can only be sustained as long as there the IPO market is in part closed to the previous web companies that need to go public (or somethinG0). One of the reasons we think this is that there are a lot of Apps. That’s a sign there is a lot of heat in the market, not necessarily light. Some of these businesses will go when all of this changes again in 2-3 years. And there will be conglomerization of apps as well: Beware of apps that are there because they are apps! Not all of theme can be sustained in the long term.

  44. LoJo_100

    I think saying the web is dead is good for headlines, but not what’s really going on. The web as we have known it over the past 15-20 years is definitely changing, just as it did for 15-20 years before the first graphical browser hit the market and made it consumer friendly. With applications that don’t require a user to go to a ‘www’ site and software that is now living in the cloud, the web is looking like a much different place.I think more people will start to see the ‘www’ side of the web as a remote desktop that provides them with software in the cloud (from word processing to complex design software) and applications become the new way to ‘browse a website’.All of this being said, I think that applications need to mature quite a bit before claiming that this full shift has happened. There will need to be more sophisticated applications around content discovery, browsing and finding new ‘sites’ . Right now, applications are great for brands consumers know about, but not so good for actually finding new tools, bloggers, retail sites, etc. Until this becomes as easy as it is on the web, I don’t think the web can be dead.In the end, I still say that it is more of an evolution, and less of a death. Just like the move from Mosaic to Netscape didn’t mean a death, it meant an evolution.

  45. Darren Herman

    Is it dead or evolved? I’d like to think the latter.

  46. Chris Frost

    Surely the web is just evolving, it is a larger ecosystem.

  47. Eric Marcoullier

    Regarding mobile devices:1) As much as Adobe and Microsoft would like to see differently, desktop apps have not taken the world by storm. When you’re on a “computer” then you are likely using the browser.2) Ergo, what we’re really talking about is that *on mobile devices* we have seen a focus on the app space. Is this surprising? Not really, since much of the selling point of mobile is that they’ve become portable multimedia devices. And the web sucks for multimedia.3) Let’s face it, we as the online developer community have standardized on a piece of junk called Flash to do all of our in-browser multimedia delivery. Until that changes, portable devices will continue to skew towards apps. But I can’t imagine that this lockin will survive HTML5.Regarding social networks (which I believe Wired referred to as the equivalent of Web Apps):1) How many articles have you read on Facebook or Twitter? Have you ever read one of Fred’s posts on a social network? Have you ever applied for a car loan, or medical insurance or bought something from a store or an auction?2) Social networks are fundamentally communication exchanges. They do a great job of sending little packets of information (a thought, a photo, a link) but they have thus far not excelled in becoming content platforms. Twitter’s 140 characters pretty much limits itself to being a (totally effective) alert system. Facebook’s users spend the vast majority of time interacting with one another and playing games.3) It seems that Chris Anderson’s web apps are doing a great job at reinventing communication (we use email less, we use the phone less) but they’re not reinventing media or software distribution.And one other thing?Using packets as a measure for comparing the usage of internet media is just beyond silly. It would be like arguing that TV is killing online because, on average, people spend more time on a TV channel than a web site. Yes, the measure is correct but the extrapolation is idiotic. Wired should be ashamed of themselves for hanging their hypothesis on such a transparently flawed idea.

  48. ph0ust

    Is this really an informed argument? Many, perhaps most, mobile apps are simply content-optimized embedded browsers. They get rid of common browser tools (i.e. bookmarks, forward, back, etc.) buttons and replace them with a UI built for that specific set of content. However, these apps are still just browsers, essentially. SMS apps are apps. Picture taking apps are apps. Media playerlike iTunes are apps. But *most* apps are not like that, most are like- Yelp, Google (all their stuff), Mint/banking, Pandora, movie tickets (e.g. Fandango), or other *web-based* services/applications.If that is the case, saying the web is dead because of mobile apps is like saying that the car is dead because electric motors will replace gasoline engines.


      Ironically, I just used the engine/car relationship as an analogy in a comment above. If you click on the comradity icon, I think you’ll see it in disqus.My point is that we don’t even have the car yet. We have a bunch of tools that make real time, one way communication possible from anywhere, tools that give us access to the vast information which has been stored on the internet, and game development software that makes it possible to interact with entertainment and fellow participants at the same time.IMHO the car will be the thing that is a reason to use all of these tools.

  49. Stephen

    what is meant is that on mobile apps are king. and despite google’s desires, apps are a better user experience than browsers. people like the dashboard where they can run through their apps and then dig into one offline or the real question is whether the desktop pc will see a return to app based experiences. I’d love to create a app store for the web, I’d love to have my mac desktop look like my iphone. apps are superior cause 1) they are persistent offline, 2) they are easy to navigate, 3) they are more performant and 4) they can have more functionalitySo the real question is will google create an app store for the web (not chrome)

  50. Emil Sotirov

    Wired’s article is mostly about old media’s 15 years of failed attempts to push/sell digital “content” through HTML. As if linear (closed) content could ever be “delivered” through hyper text (HTML).The time has come (finally), according to Wired, when old media gets the point – “sleek” web sites don’t work and won’t work for old media – “…the notion of the Web as the ultimate marketplace for digital delivery is now in doubt.” – oh, really?There are some “cultured” audiences too – always frustrated by the open, “ugly”, egalitarian, non-Ivy-validating nature of HTML. Remember, there were people who thought you should ask for permission to link to their web site!So… enter “sleek” apps and the gated communities of Apple – and the hope is revived again. Let the spending on “sleek” begin… continue… whatever. Some people will always need validation through spending for “sleek” and “exclusive”.

  51. Dorian Benkoil

    The whole debate of apps vs. HTML5 strikes me as being in the larger context of the tug between open vs. closed. It’s a business choice — make money from control or from the network effect — but not an absolute. Neither side will “win” in the foreseeable future. http://mediaflect.blogspot….

  52. Nat kannan

    We have been beta testing our Crowdsourcing Platform that uses the Cloud and relies on Mobile Computing devices for user access.Our tests suggest that Web will be here for a while as it offers an ubiquitous, evolving Common GUI with ability to move data between apps, bookmark, share, and be present in major search engines. Apps are closed systems with non-standard UI that needs to me learned anew for each app. Of course, the UI of apps and inter-app communications can improve., But is wild west out there with over quarter million apps for Android and iOS op systems. The Op Sys can force some standards, but that will be viewed by developer community. Web has gone over all these hurdles and has evolved nicely over the past decade. The agile developer tools are evolving at amazing speed.Web will subsume the popular apps as it does now as plug-ins. Web seems the only path to an universally standardized user experience with a very gently sloped learning curve.When it comes to sharing information the open-Web beats the walled-gardens of non-standard apps.NK

  53. Dave

    It’s all about monetization. I’d rather spend my time making an iPhone app that pulls in $100/week than a browser based app that I have to try to monetize with google ads or bill for on my own. Google is right to be afraid, apps are a powerful platform.

    1. David Semeria

      You’re confusing the monetization model with the application platform.

      1. PeterisP

        Services will migrate towards the platforms with the best monetization options and drag the users along using all the sticks and carrots they can find.

  54. Jason

    the web is not dead, it’s just in bed……with VZ, GOOG, T, AAPL and……we’re the ones worried about getting…mobile apps should be the fad. it’s like we took steps back because the hardware was ahead of the network.but that’s about to change, HTML5 is yummy, and that part of tomorrow couldn’t come soon enough.

  55. Pat

    Apps are great for specialized information, but nothing currently presents true competition for generalized info and customization that the browser presents. This, coupled with the idea you mentioned about “write once, read anywhere” makes me believe that the web will continue to be the standard where everything starts. Popular applications will head to the home or mobile desktop, but everything still needs to be born on the web.

  56. Pete

    Consumers don’t care about open vs closed. People want good content and apps, and they expect to be able to access their accounts on these apps from their platforms of choice.App vendors would prefer a write-once web, but we will write to whatever platforms people are using. At the moment, the mobile conversation is dominated by Apple’s closed platform and they deserve it for delivering excellent products. That doesn’t mean the open web is dead. Who knows if HTML5 will save it, but Apple will screw up eventually. Won’t they?

  57. thewalrus

    diversity = fitness. an increasing variety of development environments proves the health of the web, not its demise. fragmentation is a pain for development, but the competition pushes evolution. the current environment is so much better for consumers than the WINTEL duopoly for PCs.vertical ecosystems can always move faster in the short-term, which is what we’re seeing now (ex. Apple). but open solutions (ex. html5) will always catch up as long as the most powerful players don’t collude to create lockup. i think the whole web ecosystem is way too fragmented currently (Google, Facebook, Ebay, Amazon, Apple, Nokia, Samsung, HTC, ARM, Intel, etc, etc) for that to happen….but we’ll definitely be seeing some interesting new romances in the next couple years.the only threat to the web is happening at the infrastructure level. if net neutrality fails, the web is dead. bad policy would allow the infrastructure players to kingmake vertical stacks that open solutions would not be able to penetrate. the pace of innovation will flow like cold molasses or move into regions with better policy.note: i may seem like a hypocrite for wanting unregulated competition at the client/OS/device level, but strong regulation at the infrastructure level. but the fact is that monopoly rights have already been granted to these companies, and if not regulated and held accountable now that they have these privileges, it will certainly lead to abuse (i.e. not acting in the best interest of the consumer). its another blog post altogether whether they should be granted these rights in the first place or whether the market could provide better infra without any intervention.

    1. fredwilson

      i like the way you think about the web marko

      1. thewalrus

        amazing what one can learn trolling here over the years :)i used to get my feathers ruffled over the dominance and faux openness of google, facebook, apple and others. its important to call a spade a spade, but its naive to expect any of them to have motivations other than fiduciary responsibilities to shareholders; profit & growth. its predictable how they will act (google on net neutrality) regardless of spin (do no evil).what really matters (what enables innovation, alternative models, and choice) is that collusion doesn’t block diversity. *cough* like everyone deciding to take their talents to south beach (starring Julius Genachowski as David Stern, and Ivan Seidenberg as Pat Riley) ….not a perfect analogy but i couldn’t resist the cheap shot. go celtics!

  58. Mark Essel

    That wired article is a must read Fred, I only got halfway through the “red side” before Instapapering it for later enjoyment. Once you get past the title and take a good look at some of the macro changes we’re seeing with mobile over the last few years, the article is a blast to read.I agree that browser is getting vigorous competition from apps that work via the internet, and connect to web services but I think that will only push html5 web apps and beyond to be better than ever. The competition is healthy, and we haven’t seen enough desktop app competition to the browser for the past decade. That trend has ended with the rise of mobile apps.Tim and John Battelle talk it over here at wired.

  59. Alex Murphy

    I think there is some confusion here that is driven by what you think the Web is defined as.The Web is the interaction with a service using the Internet. Here is Wikipedia’s definition, “[the web] is a system of interlinked hypertext documents accessed via the Internet.”Apps are essentially custom browsers that allow you to save data locally and interact with the back end databases dynamically over the Internet. Many apps use their various apps to frame the content that is served dynamically from their back end system which is the same content that you can see on the browser, or in a facebook application. I refer to this as “Multi Channel” interaction. In retail, a person is a “multi channel” customer if they buy through two or more mediums like the web and in a store or through a catalog purchase or other.If anything, it is time to define Web 3.0 which is the Multi Channel web. Companies that enable users to interact (like Web 2.0) but over multiple mediums such as mobile apps, social apps, direct on site etc.

  60. Alex Murphy

    Oh, one other thing on “is the web dead” … I did a little digging into of online usage using Comscore’s data. Looking at the period of Jan 2008 through July of 2010 here are some interesting data points:1. Total online US Population in Jan 2008 = 184 MM2. Total online US Population in July of 2010 = 213 MM3. Growth from July 2008 to July of 2009 = 3.39%4. Growth from July 2009 to July of 2010 = 9.23% (note, Jun ’10 to Jul ’10) was sequentially down month over month which happened in 2008 as well)5. Number of companies with more than 50 MM users per month in Jan of 2008 = 9 6. Number of companies with more than 50 MM users per month in Jan of 2009 = 14 7. Number of companies with more than 50 MM users per month in Jan of 2009 = 18

  61. Manshu

    The internet penetration in emerging countries is much lower than developed ones, and for a large number of people from those countries the web has not even happened yet. When it does happen, they will turn to the browser before they start using fancy apps.This discussion is largely limited to advanced countries, and even there, a small percentage of all users.

  62. stevenwillmott

    Great discussion – I think the real question here is “what is the web”. What I do think is likely to disappear is the full page web browsing experience (and fast – along with a lot of advertising revenues), but there a whole range of ways to build apps – from basically as a wrapper to web content (and e.g. html 5 behind is) down using some proprietary data stream and the visualising this.What seems to me to be key as a “webby” property is linking – we can only hope that this atomization still preserves linking – and the URL/URI remains the fundamental currency of the web.Hopefully there will also be an evolution of standard APIs for different types of sites (blogs, social networks, ecommerce) which will mean that although apps rather than browsers might be consuming / rendering content there’ll still be a common fabric to everything.

  63. Tim

    You know the biggest reason this won’t happen? There are still a massive number of web users who won’t have the budget for an Apple product. And eventually the budgets are going to dry up for developing an android app, and a iphone app, and a palm app. There’s going to be an expectation of return on investment. And you know what they’ll realize? Every one of these devices has a browser based on the same core technology. The same reason the browser has suceeded every time. Does this mean there aren’t applications ported to Windows, and OSX, and Linux? Nope, there’s still a market for those. But the majority of development is still on the web. Because it works.Apple’s products are fun and interesting, but they’re inessential and don’t have a broad enough audience to be around in the long term.

  64. Ken Galpin

    Hi Fred,I have trouble looking at the web and apps as mutually exclusive (though I am not sure you are saying this). In our operation we see them as complimentary. We have a mobile app that is well suited to a mobile work force which delivers complex interaction with real time databases but also uses APIs to integrate web based, activity notifications and social graph communications. In this case the app acts as a manager of the user’s total online experience within our specific industry galaxy. At the end of the day our users want a wow experience regardless of how it is constructed. The fact that we are achieving this by combining the strengths of web and app doesn’t seem to matter much to them.Ken Galpin, CEOKurio Inc.

  65. James F.

    The web is far from dead… far far from it. It’s going to be amazing, the next 10 years.. I mean look at the last 5..

  66. TMC2K

    Wait didn’t TV kill Radio? But it still works in my car and there are some people who get rich on radio. And didn’t Cable kill TV? I noticed they have these shows called “Idol” and “Glee” that generate audiences of 15+ Million every week. And didn’t the web kill TV and Cable? I’ve got 500 channels of crap to watch. And didn’t the browser kill the PC but they still sell 300Million PCs a year. Now the iPhone apps are killing the browser as it brings exciting new functionality.iDevices would fall over and die w/o the web. All these things are additive.Maybe the question is more existential – What happens when we die?

  67. MikeSchinkel

    Fred, you nailed it on the head; links are one of the key things that made the web successful (that, and mostly persistent state returned by a link.) And it kills me when tech people say “Users don’t understand about/care about links.” It doesn’t matter if they care or not; they didn’t care about phone number but they learned how to use them because they worked. Links work. The lack of links is what so many things like Flash and even the iPad get wrong.

  68. Norbert Mayer-Wittmann

    I agree with a lot of what dave winer says (below, above, whatever ;)I think the real issue is thinking about not only containers and content, but also about *context*Some people act like their content is *special* (e.g. Murdoch, Apple, etc.). Other people act like their content is *ordinary* (e.g. wikipedia, twitter, etc.) — and accordingly the containers will be more or less walled off.Neither containers nor content are going away. So far, context has been — by and large — neglected. That is primarily because the most widely used algorithm for searching + navigating the web has been the rather oversimplified tallying up of links. Google has tried to combat the spam issue, but they simply do not have the necessary expertise to separate the wheat from the chaff (it’s *not* simply a matter of *number* crunching [and please keep in mind my recent numbers rant ;]).I think what we are beginning to see is a heightened awareness of context — and therefore the ranking algorithms required will depend on the context (which is why,,, all use ranking algorithms that differ from one another — not “one-size fits-all” approaches). I think you will see the wisdom of the language (… ) expanding into more and more contexts as time goes on (twitter is yet another example of this — and I think it’s noteworthy that Microsoft’s IE browser already highlights the domain name to highlight the context in a user-friendly manner).I strongly doubt that the context of some “one stop shop” brand name will be sufficient to become a significant factor for information retrieval. Brands are simply being replaced by the wisdom of the language, and this will continue to happen at an increasing rate. It is completely natural, and traditional brands can kick and scream all they want — it will happen anyway.:) nmw


      Norbert, I totally get what you are saying here.Your post on context driving the way people will connect socially and this tweet by Jon Pincus (@jdp23) “great Q from audience: to what extent are we no longer free to be ourselves (emphasis added) when everything is public? #pii2010” have inspired a post called “Freedom to be Ourselves”…Katherine Warman Kern@comradity

      1. Norbert Mayer-Wittmann

        Wow… I thought *I* was thinking “out of the box” — yet you just took my ideas as a springboard to saying something much *more* profound! ;)I agree with what I think you’re saying — yet I doubt that “home” is ever a fixed state. As in the “Eyes of the World”:”…the heart has its beachesits homeland and thoughts of its ownWake now, discover that youare the song that the morning bringsbut the heart has its seasonsits evenings and songs of its own…”:) nmw

        1. COMRADITY

          absolutely agree. and that is the exact subject of a post I’m working on: “You are Where?” on the subject of “where” being both intrinsic and physical.Recently, I heard Ken Burns say that Jefferson’s “right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” is a “riff” on John Locke’s “rights of life, liberty, and property”.I didn’t realize that.Isn’t it ironic that the “new world”, which people first came to for the opportunity to own property, ultimately declared its independence from the “old world” for a much “higher”, more intrinsic and enduring reason than simply the right to own property. They aimed to do more than replicate the “old world” they aimed to excel beyond it.Well, what if “new media” aimed to use technology to excel beyond what “old media” could do to tell stories that transform world views. What if we could spend less time protecting ourselves from being overexposed and we felt we had more “freedom to be ourselves”. What if we spent less time wandering and more time “pursuing happiness”.More later . . . .K—

      2. Norbert Mayer-Wittmann

        ( ps: I sent you an email with some more “follow up” ideas 🙂

  69. RichardF

    Loved Brad Feld’s response to the wired article, I tried linking to it but I guess Disqus didn’t like it

    1. fredwilson

      yes, brad post was great

  70. Wells Baum

    Chris Anderson recently proclaimed in a Wired article that the “web is dead.”He makes a valid point but I think he’s referring to the traditional web, a.k.a the browser.Instead of using the Internet browser, more and more people are accessing information via applications and bypassing the browser experience.We’re using the technology that the web brings, such as the technology to save content in a cloud.For me, I RSS my favorite websites, I get my social networking information from my Facebook app and I occasionally blog from the Tumblr app.But some things aren’t possible without browsing a web page. For one, I most certainly use the traditional web to buy music. Amazon MP3, Boomkat, Dance Tracks Digital, these are all my favorite MP3 stores only accessible via the browser. Even iTunes went browser-based.There’s no complete way to circumvent the browser but I understand the point Chris Anderson is trying to make. Internet TV, internet radio, all these platforms are powered by the Internet without seeing the traditional browser.

  71. Rwingender

    I’m trying to think of a scornful reply to the question, “is the web dead?”, but it’s too early in the morning. So, let me just say, the web will be dead when the truly paperless office arrives (remember that promise, from like, 30 years ago?), and when desktop PCs are no longer in demand (as was predicted when I was a large retail chain computer buyer, back in the mid-nineties).The question not worth 10 more seconds of debate.

  72. WVMikeP

    It’s not an either-or proposition. Will the browser be diminished? You bet. There are plenty of user experience advantages to apps beyond just look and feel.Just because the jet engine came about doesn’t meed all prop-driven planes went extinct. There’s a time and place for both. Just as there is a time and place for browser-based apps and local, but internet-enabled apps.

  73. Terry J. Leach

    No I don’t think the Web is dead. I believe everything moves in cycles. Google is biggest backer of HTML5 and for good reason it will lose if the amount of content and eye balls migrate to applications increase to a level to threaten search as a means to find content. Here are the reason why the Web is not dead.1) It’s very early in evolution of could based applications for devices like the iPad and smartphones.2) The cost of maintaining separate content for the browsers and applications will ultimately be untenable.3) Non-browser based applications are a response to the big bang of cloud information and services (Web Services and APIs), the cloud is ever expanding rapidly everyday. The Web plumbing is evolving to respond with standards such as HTML5, and semantic technologies will provide a better user experience for all devices at a reduced cost.

  74. Ericson

    I’d rather imagine the next step as the browser becoming the (cloud) OS, websites going the way of magazines and becoming more visual, and interactive, enabled by small utility apps (of my choosing) that let us ‘do something’ with all the content.

  75. J3janney

    New Wine in old wineskins (or is it new whines in old wineskins?) My thoughtsApps are a very fresh and exciting concept; and Apple is the leader because it has thousands of Apps written for the iPhone and iPad. Nothing can go wrong–Just ask Palm, who had their own ecosystem and thousands of Apps. That was fresh and exciting. Heck, I am so old that I remember when most everyone had a web-site! That was fresh and exciting too. So what is the shelf life for “fresh and exciting”?It is very fair to say that browsers don’t met all our needs, nor will Apps. The idea of scrolling though thousands and thousands of stupid apps to find just what I need is about as exciting as, scrolling through thousands of google results. Some people do that–I think they are diagnosed as have a “life deficiency”. But apps for everything lacks some appeal for me. The analogy I use is similar to internet search–great if you know what you are looking for before you search, markedly less so if not.Dos anyone actually “read” on an iPhone? I don’t mean tweets and texts and little nibbles of letters, but actually read anything that might take 20 minutes on a printed page or laptop screen. Tiny screens are great for short content, not long content. Fred, with apologies, you write too long to be read on an iPhone. I tried, but you’re much better on the laptop or kindle than the iPhone.

  76. Masood Alexander Razaq

    There are a few hundred thousand apps, and perhaps 130+ million websites. As long as apps stay captive to premium priced hardware such as iPhone and iPad (Android could change this), the web will continue to rule. The problem is tech-savvy, heavy app users have changed their usage in favor of mobile, web-enabled apps, and assume the rest of the world is doing the same. It’s not. At Microsoft we used to call this phenomenon “Medinanomics” – wealthy, Medina-residing MS execs assuming that because they would buy something (unaffordable to all but the top 1% of incomes), there must be a great market opportunity and sea change going on. The web still rules and will for a long time.

  77. Lee Graham

    Hi Fred! I have to disagree with Chris Anderson and Michael Wolff. While Apps are the popular thing right now, there is too much fragmentation between Operating Systems. iPhone/iPad support this 3D HTML5, Android supports Flash, Blackberry does this, Symbian does that… yada, yada, yada… A solution to fragmentation is web apps! All browser support HTML. I’m still not touting HTML5 as the savior from fragmentation completely, but I am saying that is can help.Here is a full blog post I dedicated to this topic:

  78. Laura Yecies

    I agree that App’s are replacing some percentage of browser “eyeball hours”, nonetheless the data in the Wired article is, in my opinion, misrepresentative on many levels. Not only is the formatting of the chart deceptive, it is measuring traffic not user experience or user interaction time so of course things like peer to peer and video take up a higher percentage even though they do not represent where users are spending their time.

  79. Alan Kelley

    The title of the article is distracting, but the article itself is very thought provoking. For years, investors have embraced the idea that the Internet’s long-term trend is generally towards openness and “free” content. Now, however, we are seeing semiclosed platforms that are thriving, and we are seeing consumers in some cases elect a high-quality paid experience in the form of an app over a lower-quality free experience that one can achieve from a browser. My 11-year-old step son said last week, “Why are you getting your email through a browser on the iPad? Use the Google app.” Regardless of whether the Google app is of better quality in this particular case, I was struck by the fact that he instinctively believed that an app would provide a better experience.I think Chris Anderson’s article should make us wonder if we are seeing a turning point in the Internet.

  80. Stephen D. Hassett

    The Web is not dead. We love mobile apps because they fill a temporary void, but they will fade awayThis is nothing more than a repeat of the trends in the early Web and pre-web where applications were built to overcome inherent limitations. For example, Pointcast mentioned in the article, overcame slow dial-up speeds by pushing content, while AOL also cached a lot of content. As internet speeds increased these approaches were no longer necessary. Since browsers were unable to accommodate rich functionality, applications were a necessity. As browser capabilities and network speeds evolved, standalone apps were less necessary. Today we see email has largely migrated away from a desktop app and in some cases spreadsheets, word processing and even gaming.Mobile today is like the Web in the 90’s with relatively slow connections and limited browser capability. Once again applications fill a void by providing richer functionality and some caching and pushing of content. I expect that mobile’s evolution will continue to follow the same evolutionary path and in a few years with faster connections, devices and more browser capability, we will see a much smaller market for mobile apps. They simply won’t be needed.

  81. calabs

    I’m surprised no one has mentioned REST, the architecture of the web. In the same way the JVM has become far more important than Java, REST is already more important than HTML.We’ve all gotten used to the idea that the physical form of the client doesn’t matter. But what hasn’t sunk in yet is that the technology of the client *software* doesn’t matter much either, and it’s mattering less everyday. We are seeing is an explosion in client technologies, but the unrelenting dominance of REST.Users care about pixels and buttons, and could care less how they got there.This is a good thing.—–P.S. HTML may never get replaced in it’s core specialty – enabling the unimpeded free flow of information between academic researchers.

  82. Sam Decker

    Consumer usage will and are moving to mobile devices quickly. But when you look at so many industries today, they are hardly leveraging web technology in their business process. Those of us in tech might too smart to be successful for these industries, and we’re selling to ourselves. The slow to adopt will adopt.Perhaps on a personal level some of the productivity will jump to the phone for the average citizen. But in the corporate space, there’s a long way to go for non-mobile Web to realize its potential.

  83. Prokofy

    But iphones and droids and such are a bunch of webs. What do you do with those phones? You go on the web with them.What I mean is, the strands of the web come out and wrap around your individual phone, and you are enwebbed.To be sure, trying to get a link to work on the Android on Facebook is hella hard, I never can manage to hit the right thing.

  84. Ads_suck

    The web *is* dead! It’s nothing more than 1% content bordered by 99% ads. Stay tuned for a dead cell phone, near you!

  85. Stella Tran

    Is the Web dead? Not really. It’s evolving. We are just accessing the Web in different ways, via tablet PCs, mobile phones, televisions, etc. Josh Bernoff of Forrester Research has coined the phrase “Splinternet” to describe this evolution.…Hope you find the article helpful. Thanks for a great blog.

  86. Steve GLANGE

    dear mr wilson,thank you for pointing this topic out.i agree with you with most points except that the user experience both on the usability as well as enhanced features side is much more enhanced via apps than via the browser experience – of course everything i/we use today is online i.e. “cloud” based and should be usable also via the browser in order to insure the best and ubiquitous usebest,

  87. Steve GLANGE

    dear mr wilson,thank you for pointing this topic out.i agree with you with most points except that the user experience both on the usability as well as enhanced features side is much more enhanced via apps than via the browser experience – of course everything i/we use today is online i.e. “cloud” based and should be usable also via the browser in order to insure the best and ubiquitous usebest,

  88. William Mougayar

    Great comment. The Web is the platform, not just the destination.