Veteran journalist and Web entrepreneur John Battelle is writing a book about what the Web might look like a generation from now. He has some very interesting ideas and he will often give a little glimpse into what he is thinking along those lines on his blog. His latest post is about the Internet’s “Big Five” – the key players in the Web to come.
It’s easy to see where he is coming from in choosing these companies to represent what the world may look like 25 years from now. But that’s a long time in Internet time. Remember, it only took a decade for any of these companies to make an impact on the world as it is now.
But his blog post does make me question some things about the direction that the Web is moving in. Here are a few that come to mind.
- Will Apple primarily become a mobile app company?
- Why hasn’t Microsoft leveraged its core products by hosting them in the cloud? It seems that this could be a key area of competitive advantage given the popularity of services like Google Docs, Zoho, and Salesforce.
- Can Google succeed in becoming the core reputation management platform online? Has it already?
- Is Amazon the Wal-Mart of the Web? Can it put Wal-Mart “out of business?”
- Can Amazon position itself as the premier cloud service for the Web in the next 20 years?
- Would a public IPO push Facebook higher in the rankings, perhaps past Amazon, or Google?
- Who will emerge as the Internet’s most prominent icon for the next generation? Will it be Google, Facebook, Amazon, or some company we haven’t heard of yet?
- Can Google win as long as it maintains confidence in the Open Source Web given that none of the other four companies do?
The interesting thing about this list is that Apple, Google, Facebook, and Amazon all have core online businesses. Apple is integrated heavily into mobile apps. Google, of course, is the leading search engine. Facebook is the leading social network. Amazon is the leading e-commerce website. Only Microsoft has a core business that is not an online business – its Office suite of products. How will that affect the Internet for the next generation. If Microsoft doesn’t take its core product online, will it become obsolete?
What are your thoughts?