Mobility, video, social: The future of the web, according to Google

There are three big changes heading for the web that businesses should pay attention to if they want to stay ahead of the curve.
Written by Michael Lee, Contributor

There will be three big changes in how people use technology, and while all of them are a work in progress, the smart will get on board early, according to Google's Australia and New Zealand Managing Director Nick Leeder.

Leeder shared his predictions with a crowd of 300 entrepreneurs at the web giant's Google for Entrepreneurs Day, held in Sydney yesterday, saying that Google wants to help them build Sydney into the world's new Silicon Beach — the southern hemisphere's counterpart to Silicon Valley.

According to Leeder, the big three changes will revolve around the need for greater mobility, an adoption of more video on the web, and the influence of social networks — but not necessarily social media — in everyday life.


Leeder was liberal with the statistics backing his point that internet use was becoming more mobile, starting with the financials: Australians spent AU$6 billion on mobile phones and tablets last year; moving on to the volumes: 8 billion smartphones were sold last year; and the growth: searches from mobile devices is doubling every 12 months. Currently, 25 percent of all web searches are done on mobile devices.

According to Leeder, it's even influenced how Google builds, changes, or commercialises a product, with mobile considerations among the top priorities for the company.

"When a team comes along with a new product [...] if the words mobile aren't in the first three or four, they get sent back and have another think about their plan," he said.

But those hoping to take advantage of the mobility boom shouldn't just restrict themselves to smartphones and tablets. Leeder said that there may soon be other devices that connect us to the internet that we haven't even thought about yet.

"The mobile phone is just the first of the devices that will connect us to the web all the time," he said, referring to Google Glass as an example of just one of the devices that he thought people may use to interact with the world


The web has been transformed from a dry sea of "blue links and text" to a place filled with moving pictures and voice, Leeder said. He added that this didn't just mean more videos of cats.

He provided examples of users that had left their day jobs after creating videos as a means of entertainment or to hold their own educational classes online. But apart from creating internet celebrities, he also pointed to Telstra, which is already using video to provide better help to customers.

These include step-by-step videos on how to connect its products, like the T-Box, which the telco traditionally provided support for via its contact centre.

"They're seeing, resulting from that, a reduction in calls through the contact centre, so there's a real business imperative behind some of this stuff."


Social networking might be all the rage, but Leeder said that while everyone's talking on their respective networks, not all of the conversations create something of value.

In order to truly make use of social, Leeder said that businesses needed to look at the context of the information, using the purchase of a washing machine as an example.

"If you're buying a washing machine, there's probably a week every 20 years or 10 years, where you're suddenly interested in washing machines, and the other 10 years, your life is hopefully going to go on without the thought of washing machines."

According to Leeder, it's that single week where, what was previously considered noise on a user's social network becomes extremely valuable information. In order for businesses to benefit, they need to realise when their target market wants relevant information, and deliver it at the right time.

"There's been a fundamental recognition that the internet is not inhabited by computers — it's actually inhabited by people."

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