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It's Time to Write a Eulogy for the Internet as We Know It

The Internet is prone to change. We all know this and have experienced it firsthand. Even though we may understand this reality, it can still be rather shocking when we’re confronted with it. The latest statistics show us how the current changes of the Internet have huge implications about how we’ll all interact with the web moving forward, which may spell doom for doing “online business as usual.”

A recent report by Forrester reveals that we are spending 85 percent of our time on our mobile phones using apps, and only 15 percent in the browser. Pair this with another major trend that saw a tipping point in 2014 when more people began accessing the Internet through mobile apps than desktop computers, and you really begin to see clearly just how the web is truly changing.

By changing, we mean that people are spending far less time on their desktops (and dramatically more so on their mobile devices) perusing the Internet by going from website to website, and far more of their time online using mobile apps. Does this mean you, as a business owner, should therefore shift all of your online efforts to mobile apps?

Not necessarily, seeing as another finding from Forrester’s study shows that people are spending 85 percent of their time on their mobile device utilizing only five apps, which includes obvious apps such as Facebook and Google.

As net neutrality continues to be threatened by legislation influenced by special interests, the trend shown by these statistics threaten the same freedoms we enjoy online, only from a different angle. That angle: the business interests of a handful of companies that own these popular mobile platforms will end up dominating and controlling the online conversation. Business2Community describes it like this: “This reality on the commercial web is now being revealed as we are witnessing the rise of a duopoly. Google and Facebook. Today 90 percent of all advertising growth on digital is coming from these two companies.”

Now, don’t get us wrong, as long as there’s an Internet you’ll still be able to publish your message (whether it be personal or professional) in the same ways that were popular 10 years ago before the iPhone hit the scene (like using websites, forums, email, etc.). It’s just that, good luck getting anybody to actually listen to your message without the help of Facebook and Google to drive traffic to your site. Furthermore, online content that’s not tailored for mobile will continue to lose influence as the Internet continues to evolve in the ways that it is.

While the vast majority of us are powerless to stop such changes, all those who value the open Web have every right to mourn what the web’s becomining. An appropriate eulogy can be found in the words of Tim Berners-Lee’s (the inventor of the World Wide Web) 1995 utopian vision of how the Internet can change the world for good. Berners-Lee described his vision of the web as “an open platform that would allow everyone, everywhere to share information, access opportunities, and collaborate across geographic and cultural boundaries.”

While the web is more accessible and “open” today than ever before, one must put an asterisk at the end of this 1995 statement that communicates, “at the terms of Google and Facebook.”

From a business standpoint, the ongoing changes of the Internet presents a challenge that’s inherent with the use of any technology--the challenge to keep up with and anticipate trends, and to adapt your business model accordingly. Technology can change suddenly and you owe it to the continuity of your business to be in the know. Thankfully, you’ve got the technology experts at IronEdge to navigate this changing world of technology for you.

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