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What The Future Holds: Web 3.0

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Now that we have offered you some insight on Web 2.0 over the past week (and will continue to focus on this interesting topic in the future), we would like to bring you this weeks “What the future holds” from Phil Wainewright of ZDNet. The following is a slightly edited post from the first in his series of Web 3.0 and how the web will evolve and change from now til then.

There is a software industry rule that version 2.0 of any product tends to be short-lived and a testing ground for version 3.0, which is where we see a great advancement. Windows was a classic example. 1.0 was so buggy it was hardly worth using. 2.0 fixed some serious problems but still had a lot of shortcomings. 3.0, launched in May 1990, was an instant success, leading us all the way through Windows 95, 98, XP, and soon to be Vista.

Don’t be surprised, if Web 2.0 (learn more about Web 2.0)also turns out to be just a testing ground for a much more mature and durable Web 3.0. Web 3.0 is going to deliver a new generation of business applications, advancing on the peer interactions one has with Web 2.0 (flickr, wiki). Of course we can expect the big names to deliver the major Web 3.0 changes, such as Google, Amazon.com, Yahoo, and eBay but there will also be a handful of smaller ones, including WebEx, WebSideStory, NetSuite, Jamcracker, Rearden Commerce and Salesforce.com. Each of these companies shed interesting light on how Web 3.0 may develop. As with any shift from one generation to the next, there’s plenty of scope for new leaders to emerge — and for established front-runners to stumble — in the battle for supremacy.

Web 3.0 isn’t just about shopping, entertainment and search. It’s also going to deliver a new generation of business applications that will see business computing converge on the same fundamental on-demand architecture as consumer applications. So this is not something that’s of merely passing interest to those who work in enterprise IT. It will radically change the organizations where they work and their own career paths.

Web 3.0 will be divided into three (and a half) distinct layers:

  1. API services form the foundation layer. These are the raw hosted services that have powered Web 2.0 and will become the engines of Web 3.0 — Google’s search and AdWords APIs, Amazon’s affiliate APIs, a seemingly infinite ocean of RSS feeds, a multitude of functional services, such as those included in the StrikeIron Web Services Marketplace, and many other examples. Some of the providers, like Google and Amazon, are important players, but there is a huge long tail of smaller providers. One of the most significant characteristics of this layer is that it is a commodity layer. As Web 3.0 matures, an almost perfect market will emerge and squeeze out virtually all of the profit margin from the highest-volume services — and sometimes squeeze them into loss-leading or worse.
  2. Aggregation services form the middle layer. These are the intermediaries that take some of the hassle out of locating all those raw API services by bundling them together in useful ways. Obvious examples today are the various RSS aggregators, and emerging web services marketplaces like the StrikeIron service. There will be some lucrative businesses operating in this layer, but it’s not where most of the big money will be made.
  3. Application services form the top layer. These will not be like the established application categories we are used to, such as CRM, ERP or office, but a new class of composite applications that bring together functionality from multiple services to help users achieve their objectives in a flexible, intuitive and self-evident way. An interesting example just surfaced in Swivel, Halsey Minor’s new venture, one enthusiastic early user who describes the ‘wow’ moment of starting to use an application and discovering that it delivers utility he barely even knew existed. To me, that’s a fundamental characteristic of a Web 3.0 application.
    • Serviced clients are the ‘and-a-half’ layer. There is a role for client-side logic in the Web 3.0 landscape, but users will expect it to be maintained and managed on their behalf. Whether those clients are based on browser technology or on Windows technology is moot point.

Read [ZD Net]

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