Friday, 25 May 2012

The web's third age may not include facebook

Before I proceed I should probably explain what I'm defining as the third age of the web. I tend to deliberately avoid using the term web 3.0 as I’ve always felt trying to define the web with software upgrade terms is troubling. I do however believe we’ve entered the third age, or at least the third big evolution of the web.

If the first age was the passive published web and the second age - often known as web 2.0 -  was the interactive web then the third age is immersive, omnipresent and enabled by mobile. For want of a better term we’re going to call it the everywhere web.

Erik Jackson at Forbes argues that the first wave web properties failed to make it far past the dotcom bubble into a brave new web 2.0 world because of the time and way they were conceived. In a similar vein Facebook may have exactly the same problem in evolving from the second stage to the third stage.

Facebook was at the vanguard of creating the ultimate web 2.0 experience, but because they have had to back fill on their mobile experience it would appear that they are struggling to fit into a world where the web is everywhere. The mobile experience continues to be frustrating and fractured when compared with the desktop experience and in a world that is increasingly going mobile the massive focus on timeline implementation seems a little odd.

As we’ve mentioned in previous weeks the lack of mobile innovation at Facebook caused concern in the run up to last week’s IPO and the scrabbling that seemed to be going on with the purchase of Instagram and the announcement of App Centre seemed to suggest they knew it. Last night in a slightly bizarre move Facebook announced the launch of Facebook camera, an Instagram clone that appears to have been in development prior to the Instagram purchase which goes someway to explaining the huge sale price. However, at first glance it lacks many of the really good aspects of its acquisition.

The struggle that Facebook seem to be having with mobile, coupled with some of the criticism levelled at it since its stuttering IPO, about being just another ad funded site add up to problems. When MIT and Forbes are saying that you’re going to disappear and each for different reasons it’s time to start worrying.

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