Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Web 2.0 Impact to the Computer Industry

First and foremost, I hate the term "Web 2.0", simply because it is trademarked. It is simply stupid. Tim should have disallowed that. Anyway, just put this aside and talk on what I think about the impact of this Web 2.0 to the computer industry.

People would easily argue that with the advancement of the Web 2.0, thick client is no longer needed, thin client and powerful server is the future. Well, to some extent, this is true. This would translated to increase server demand, better broadband connectivity.

However, the above deduction is just simply too simplistic. Let's use the definition from the and real life example to illustrate this.

The Web 2.0 characteristics as listed in the Wiki is as follow
1) "Network as platform" — delivering (and allowing users to use) applications entirely through a web-browser.
2) Users owning the data on the site and exercising control over that data.
3) An architecture of participation and democracy that encourages users to add value to the application as they use it.
4) A rich, interactive, user-friendly interface based on Ajax.
5) Some social-networking aspects.

The first deduction that we made in the second paragraph would be true for the point #1. Google or even Microsoft would (eventually) enable some office application through the webs, be it in Internet or more powerful version through a company's Intranet. Most of the day to day jobs, be it business or engineering work can be done through the network(for the engineering case, i mean remote session to a server here)

The point #2, and #5 however, take YouTube as an example, still has room for the thick client. A powerful client would allow users to encode their video and to some extent add in some funky stuff instead of pure video encoding, at a more comfortable speed. Besides that, wireless broadband will be a hit as users able to upload their contents, at anywhere, and anytime. Mobility is also key here and hence, mobile device will be a plus because of the Web 2.0. In this sense, computer industry has to fight with the phone industry. Computer industry has to make use of its much higher processing ability to create contents that's not so possible to be done in the phone at the same period of time. Complex but easy to use video editing tools will be a point here.

To some extent, I believe online gaming provided some Web 2.0 characteristics. It provides interactive meeting place, creative expressions ability, and some even allow user to have some effect on the game scene, etc and I'm sure newer game would have more features that what i listed here. The 'virtual world' will definitely need a powerful client for the better 'virtual' experience. Unless broadband bandwidth can increase so dramatically, those virtual scene, etc, would still need to be handled by the client.

Web 2.0 will not cast doom to the thick client. Instead, it can be another inflexion point to all segment of the computer industry, a boom to then thin and thick client, as well as the server.

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