Who will rule Web 3.0?

Who will rule Web 3.0?

Summary: John Hagel has raised some important questions about where economic power will lie when enterprises start to embrace Web 2.0 technologies.

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TOPICS: Tech Industry
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John Hagel very kindly took me to task last month for leaping ahead to Web 3.0 when the ink is barely dry on 2.0. Well, however you number the versions, my crucial point was that Web 2.0 is bankrupt.

Web 3.0 is just my shorthand for Web 2.0 plus all the things that enterprises will look forHowever you number the versions, Web 2.0 is bankrupt before they trust what it has to offer, such as viable business models, cast-iron service guarantees and tangible business value. Features like these aren't just a few extra bells and whistles that you bolt on as an afterthought. If they're not there in the foundations, then you have to rip everything down and start over. By the time everything that's required is in place, then I think it certainly is going to feel like a completely new generation of technology, and so it merits a full new version number.

John is right to point out, however, that the notion of service grids, which he and John Seely Brown mooted in a white paper in 2002 (and in other writing around that time) is indeed implicit in my description of the middle layer of Web 3.0, which I called the aggregation services layer. In fact, I think you might fairly argue that aggregation services are the Web 2.0 incarnation of what he and JSB described back in 2002: The missing layer that links the foundation standards and protocols with the application services they enable.

Where I differ from John — as he noted — is in believing that the most value will be generated at the application layer rather than within the service aggregation/service grids layer. John argues that the application services layer will be very fragmented: "I suspect that most application services will address very profitable, but very small, niches." But I think he underestimates the sheer size of this layer, and thus the scope within it for some players to assume very large scale, even while a plethora of others specialize in an almost infinite variety of long-tail opportunities.

At the same time, I think John underestimates the degree of competition and thus fragmentation that will occur in the aggregation services layer— which is why I prefer to call it that rather than use his services grid terminology, with its undertones of utility provision dominated by mega-providers.

The interesting thing about this debate is that either of us could be right — it could easily go either way. Over the next few days I'm going to continue my exploration of what I'll persist in describing as the Web 3.0 landscape, looking at several potential players within these two layers and exploring some of the drivers manifest in those examples that tend towards either fragmentation or concentration of economic opportunity and power.

Topic: Tech Industry

Phil Wainewright

About Phil Wainewright

Since 1998, Phil Wainewright has been a thought leader in cloud computing as a blogger, analyst and consultant.

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11 comments
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  • Nearly impossible to monetize

    Mr. Wainewright's statement that "Web 2.0 is bankrupt" is absolutely correct. He is also correct when he puts forth that businesses will not adopt Web 2.0 (or Web 3.0, as he prefers) until SLAs, value, etc. are possible. Most importantly, in one of his previous articles (http://blogs.zdnet.com/SAAS/?p=69), he brings up the fact that current pricing models do not work well for the Web 2.0/3.0 architechture.

    Unfortunately, these services are nearly impossible to monetize profitably. Is a vendor going to charge you for every query that you run against their system? Or are they going to charge you for bytes transferred? No matter how you cut it, I see no reason why a service or data consumer would not simply cache this data. For example, if my company builds an application that relies upon a third party to provide critical data, it would most certainly be in my best interests to shove that data into my own data store. This is pretty trival code to write; check your own data store for the results, check it against a staleness factor, such as when I pulled it compared to how frequently the data provider updates that data, and pull it from the data provider if needed. Store it in my data store until it goes stale.

    If the third party data or service source is updating their information so rapidly that caching is not a good option, the business model makes sense. On the other hand, if this information is being updated that frequently, it certainly makes sense for my business to have that data feed coming directly to our servers, instead of working through a third party.

    Where these types of services make sense is in the small business market, or as minor pieces in larger applications. Additionally, the data or service needs to be specialised or hard to obtain information (whether it is rare information or expensive to purchase the software, or whatever). In this scenario, the data provider can leverage their economics of scale such that it makes sense that they can provide the service or data more cheaply than a company could provide it to itself for.

    J.Ja
    Justin James
    • good idea, no?

      I'd have thought providers would welcome you caching the data. Surely they don't want their servers to be hit needlessly.

      It's probably *when* data providers can feel confident that the downstream reconstructors are sufficiently mature and co-operative about cacheing, that they can seriously drop the price of providing data to these secondary services.

      Hmm. Timely updates as the thing you pay for. Reminds me of this ; http://ross.typepad.com/blog/2005/11/the_ping_war.html
      interstar
      • Depends on how they monetize it

        "I'd have thought providers would welcome you caching the data. Surely they don't want their servers to be hit needlessly."

        Yes, that would be correct if they were charging a per-seat or per-enterprise fee. This will not hold true if they charge you on a per-transaction or per-bytes or per-CPU hour type of basis. That puts them in a business model where the bulk of their cost is constant, and a small portion of it goes up with each use, so they make their profit by charging enough per-use so that it pays for the use itself, plus puts money towards the base cost of the system, plus profit. I should have clarified a bit more in my comment. :)

        J.Ja
        Justin James
  • Huh?

    I've been an IS professional for over 20 years. I have an engineerig degree in computer science. I didn't understand one single word of this article! Is it my fault or the author's fault?
    kenaaa2
    • Don't worry

      All this can safely be ignored. Something else will be in fashion next year.

      If your education included a good grounding in the fundamentals of mathematics and computing science then these fundamentals won't go away in a hurry and will be just as usable in twenty years as they are now.

      However the computer industry always has to have something "new" to sell. Creating something genuinely new is very difficult and happens seldom, therefore old ideas have to be given new names and preferably given a gloss of mystery.

      In the meantime you might want to invoke C. J. Date's incoherence principle: "It is impossible to respond coherently to that which is incoherent."
      jorwell
      • They ought to...

        IMPROVE and stabilise the current generation before moving onto the next.

        I don't notice any difference between the original web & this 2.0 Web gibberish.
        BlazeEagle
  • To the author of pretension

    You write like a 19-year old history major. I put the paragraph
    below through Babelfish's "Pretention-to-English translator and
    look what I got.

    You wrote:
    Over the next few days I'm going to continue my exploration of
    what I'll persist in describing as the Web 3.0 landscape, looking
    at several potential players within these two layers and exploring
    some of the drivers manifest in those examples that tend
    towards either fragmentation or concentration of economic
    opportunity and power.

    Babelfish translates:
    Over the next few days I will write about people who want to
    make money by controlling web standards.

    Final note: The premise of your article is absurd.
    andrewaaa5
  • "who will rule the web 3.0?" wrong question! Economic Feasibility!

    I am amazed at the intellectual debate that is going on in cornering the potential of the SOA evolution. As a learned person once stated-.."the purpose of life is action not knowledge". I would ask our pundits not to throw confusion at the corporate executives based on your past credentials at renowned consulting firms, and present visibility at leading taboloids; but help them understand the values that will and could be derived in a focussed evolution towards SOA. Web 2.0 or the next genre web x.0 and who knows "the robut that will carry the message securely" may all happen but not until the organization make a committment to focus and build the necesary infrastructure for the evolution to take root. Coming up with a new nomenclature, a new silver bullet, will never achieve any thing and will continue to give IT a bad rap. I know we all have to make money-but let's be honest about it. How many of you have ever written a program of any complexity that was marketed and made money? There are a lot of code writers today but very few programmers remain. Sad!!!
    ajitorsarah9
    • SOA & Semantic

      "First think than act". Semantic/knowledge preceeds actions - hopefully.

      I personally am not a great believer in SOA, it is another hyped up term - just like many others (including Web 3.0) The are advantages in organising systems to SOA, but danger is that many antiquated systems with SOA labelling are preserving their existing empires.

      In my opinion we should just have pure knowledge expression that is sharable and executable such that there is no IT and actions are automated from that knowledge - in this world SOA would exist by default.


      Semantic/knowledge technology is the only way IT can be great - unfortunately/fortunately, IT will become redundant as control would pass to the users as they will be able to do it themselves. Excel (very limited semantically) is a good point - no need for IT to do spreadsheets.

      Our company will launch on line deep semantic driven system under thoughtexpress.com early next year. We believe it is first entirely knowledge based SaaS.

      Maybe there should be very few programmers and rest should be just knowledge workers.

      Cheers

      Pawel Lubczonok
      Pawel Lubczonok
  • "who will rule the web 3.0?" wrong question! Economic Feasibility!

    I am amazed at the intellectual debate that is going on in cornering the potential of the SOA evolution. As a learned person once stated-.."the purpose of life is action not knowledge". I would ask our pundits not to throw confusion at the corporate executives based on your past credentials at renowned consulting firms, and present visibility at leading taboloids; but help them understand the values that will and could be derived in a focussed evolution towards SOA. Web 2.0 or the next genre web x.0 and who knows "the robut that will carry the message securely" may all happen but not until the organization make a committment to focus and build the necesary infrastructure for the evolution to take root. Coming up with a new nomenclature, a new silver bullet, will never achieve any thing and will continue to give IT a bad rap. I know we all have to make money-but let's be honest about it. How many of you have ever written a program of any complexity that was marketed and made money? There are a lot of code writers today but very few programmers remain. Sad!!!
    ajitorsarah9
  • web x.0 techo-gibberish

    What a techo-gibberish this article is. Can anyone tell me the difference between web 1.0, 2.0 3.0 and the upcoming 4.0 ?????
    AJAX, or RSS?
    - RSS existed in 1999 (Dan Libby for Netscape)
    - AJAX is nothing more than a repackage of javascript techniques.

    Just another attempt for a new internet bubble.
    cuboctahedron2004