A historical case study on the web and its competitors.
We live in a fast-paced, technology-oriented, evolutive environment – society is becoming increasingly more dependant on technology every day. To accompany this thirst, our expectations also continue to escalate with curiosity and comfort encouraging it to thrive.
Picture the evolution from vinyl to the iPod – there has been cassettes, the walkman, CDs and MP3s. Each of these technologies replacing the former because the new one outperforms it. I don’t think you’re missing anything by moving from a walkman to an iPod but purists may disagree.
The web has been around for 25 years now and it hasn’t been replaced. It was said CDs would replace the web. Then we had Flash. Now, we have mobile apps. And I just think this is going to be the same old story over and over again.
Don’t get me wrong, I love new technologies. I think CSS animations are fantastic, but at the same time I don’t think they are needed to create a nice website. We follow progressive enhancement here, which means we build robust groundings first and then iterate through the design adding details when features are available. This way we produce future friendly sites, because every browser can understand plain and simple HTML. That’s how some websites are 20 years old and still online and working, like the Internet 1996 World Exposition, Space Jam and Lost World sites.
That’s why apps won’t replace the web. These interconnected documents, full of information from many sources are too important to be replaced. But it doesn’t work the other way either. The web shouldn’t try to replace apps, it should use its unique capabilities to fill the gaps that ‘apps just can’t reach’.
A good example is the Internet of Things. Google has called this approach the Physical Web, where they use the web to interact with many smart, connected things (heating systems, speakers, TVs, door locks and now even cars and fridges). Apps have one purpose, so having an app per physical device will get overwhelming (like it wasn’t overwhelming already) and very complicated to scale in the very near future. The web solves the problem. Almost every device that has internet access has a browser. No further need to develop multiple and expensive apps for each mobile OS.
The web is past, present and future. Super web! And that’s why I love it!