Category Archives: Web applications

Mobiles and Social Web over the next 10 years: five megatrends

Having gone through some 22 forecasts about mobiles and the social web from 2010 to 2020, I’ve collapsed them into five transformative trends:

1. Mobiles will be used for more things, dominating other networks

Mobile devices (phones, tablets, laptops, netbooks) are set to become much more important for communication and broadband connectivity. There will be more content generated and distributed, more digital marketing, financial transactions, health care services and environmental monitoring over mobiles.  The cost of powerful smartphones will fall…and handheld form factors become old hat. Advertising revenues may exceed TV and the internet by reach and by revenue.

2. Mobiles will change our reality, through augmented/mixed reality and location/person/object aware applications

New applications will be used for search, discovery, entertainment, gaming, healthcare and retail. In time, nearly every user interaction with mobiles might be location-aware. Advanced augmented reality and location-aware applications will become mainstream and core revenue earners.

3. The Social Web matures

The era of experimentation with social networks will end with users, businesses, governments and civil society embedding social networking and social media into everyday lives and business activity. User sophistication develops as filtering tools and techniques are applied and the relevancy and utility of connections improve. Collective intelligence helps to filter and respond to what is worthwhile to users. More control over what is created and done online is placed with individuals and their trusted intermediaries.  Porting data will become easier.

4. The Social Web transforms

Social networks online change the nature of work and generate new economic value and social benefits. Companies will function on social networks. Online reputation drives work and personal relationships. Most people expect social network connectivity and interaction to be real-time and available anywhere.

5. Applications re-shape the value-chain

The applications market continues to grow internationally, with more stores and more uses, within an open and innovative environment for applications development. Underlying networks and platforms provide utility access and connectivity.

Digital literacy proposals in the UK

According to a report in The Guardian the UK Government is considering introducing digital literacies to the primary school curriculum. Under the web-based learning proposals, children would learn familiarity with blogging, podcasting, Wikipedia and Twitter as sources of information and communication. 

I think it is fascinating that Twitter gets such a high profile, but then I’m not surprised about it. Twitter is a form of online SMS but with a lot extra, and text messaging is hugely popular. The proposals also demonstrate a high level of confidence about the usefulness of content on Wikipedia, and the continuity of short messaging services online.
That being said, I would think the thrust of the proposals are more likely to on the use of the web for finding information and for communication, whatever the applications in use now might be.

Skype now has the largest share of international voice traffic

According to research firm TeleGeography, Skype now has the largest share of international voice traffic. Skype’s cross-border international traffic grew by 41% over 2008 to 33 billion minutes. Not bad for a company that launched just 5 years ago.

This result squares with my expectations in that the global economic meltdown will drive higher use of low-cost communications services. Other contributing factors are likely to include take-up of broadband internet connections, including mobile connectivity over smart–phones, notebooks and netbooks.

Internet use and culture in China

For some months now I’ve been taking more interest in scanning Internet use trends in China. Intuitively, I feel that China will be a centre of innovation and influence in the emerging Internet culture globally. The latest stats reported in the China Web2.0 Review reinforce my view.

At 253 million users, China now has more Internet users than any other country. Internet users with broadband amounted to 214 million. Sure, there is some way to go in terms of penetration overall, but the growth rate remains high (43 million new users were added in the first half of 2008 ) and the number of mobile Internet users now stands at 73 million. Mobile Internet growth rates exceed PC rates.

Overall use figures in themselves are of considerable interest. But it’s the social change indicators in the use stats that are more fascinating to me. 107 million users (or 42% of all users) have blogs or ‘spaces’ online. Many users write posts on social networking sites. 70 million updated their blogs or spaces in the last six months. Over 80% of users listen to music online, use IM and read news online.

To me these figures say that Chinese Internet users have taken to the Participative Web in a big way. I have no doubt that innovative Web applications like Goofy2 foreshadow much more innovation from China downstream.

Cloud Media

Ross Dawson has launched the Future of Media Lifecycle framework developed for the Future of Media Summit 2008. Again, I do like the imagery created by Future Exploration Network.

I like the ‘personal cloud’ imagery to capture the way people store, create and consume content. Including ‘conversation’ in the Sea of Content  helps to capture the participatory nature of social media, although ‘life streaming’ would fit just as well.

Viewing media as a personal cloud captures the way people consume and create media at work, socialising, in transit (mobile) and in the home. I agree that personalised location-specific and outdoor media may well be more interesting – i.e. of value – to people than mass-market marketing.

Reading Ross Dawson’s blog posting got me thinking (as you do). I would say there are more clouds in the media lifecycle:

  • Social clouds – clouds where networked people store and share their sea of content
  • Community clouds – a community sea of content, created and maintained by groups of people with shared interests, including communities that endure over time, transcending individual influences.

In other words, fundamental social elements and actors map to the Cloud. And likewise, participation is in the home and mobile. Social and community clouds – as well as personal clouds – are wherever, whatever, and however you like.

Less is more. Simplicity is the key

Great posting by Stan Schroeder in Mashable a couple of days ago – Why less is more and how to unlock the Web.Stan uses Twitter, FriendFeed, Google and WordPress as examples.

I’ll cover the last bit first. I agree with Stan: unlock the power of the Web and be influential in as many important networks as possible. I am new to Twitter (@conem) but so far, I’m really impressed with the scope and reach. To me, Twitter is more than a ‘one-to-many short message broadcast’. It’s a conversation. It’s about knowledge creation and knowledge sharing. It’s about sharing your life with others…which is a very powerful basic social need. It crosses organisational, geographic and cultural boundaries. Twitter’s track-record in emergencies is outstanding (Katrina, Sichuan).

The power of the Web lies also in it’s open, distributed and global connectivity, over multiple platforms and terminals. Opening up applications to the full distributive power of the Web is a no brainer.

Now for the ‘less is more’ bit. Enough has been said…by many, many people…about Google’s home page. There is a magic in simplicity.

Twitter is also really easy to use. I determine the level of my engagement with others. I am connecting with people that I may not have (or not very likely to have) otherwise. I can put up with the technical issues because the benefits outweigh the irritations. Remember, people used to put-up with brick-sized mobile phones, poor coverage and low battery-life.

And Twitter links to FriendFeed. I’ve just started with FriendFeed, but his looks to be very promising too. Easy to set up. FriendFeed may be the social networking/lifestream aggregator I’ve been waiting for…the inter-connections are amazing.

For application developers, Stan’s message is clear: create a service that meets a basic need in the simplest way possible, and open it up.

Consuming, producing, sharing through the cognitive surplus

Thanks to Tony at ABC Digital Futures, I’ve seen Clay Shirky’s talk at Web2.0 Explore. You can view the presentation at

Using his words, Clay’s insight was to understand that “when people are offered the opportunity to produce and share, they will do it”. The ‘Participative Web’ is that opportunity. Clay describes the migration of people from the TV set to the Web as being of comparable social and economic significance as the industrial revolution.

Some fascinating statistics come out in Clay’s presentation, such as Americans spending 200 billion hours each year watching TV. Imagine the social and economic possibilities if even one half of that time was spent producing and sharing via the Web – using the ‘cognitive surplus’ that has been untapped for many years.

Clay’s view about the inherent attraction to producing and sharing squares with my research on the participative web: that social needs (status, self-esteem, self expression, affiliation, and reciprocity) are increasing being met online.

Finally, Clay’s observation that “media targeted at you but that does not include you” – i.e traditional broadcasting – is on the outer.