I’ve thought a lot about visual communication this week, and I’ve come to the (almost spiritual) realization that its future is neither in print (see my first blog post) nor in website form. “The cloud” will be a huge part of it, but not in the form of websites displayed in various browsers but as software integrated with whatever product there is. Yes, I am aware that a website is displayed in software in form of a browser, but what I’m talking about is communication in a much deeper sense, something beyond what a browser could offer.
The advantage of custom software is that it can use hardware in a much more integrated way than a browser-based solution can. Skype, MSN chat, iChat, and Icq would have never worked in a browser-based environment.
There are too many standards and an even worse integration capability between browsers and hardware. Flash was kind of on its way until Steve Jobs killed it with the iPhone and the iPad, two products that have proved that browser solutions are not only easy to replace but stupid to hang on to. Suddenly I find myself wanting specific software for all of my web-based needs, instead of having to navigate within a browser.
In Sweden we have a music player called Spotify, It’s kind of like Pandora mixed with iTunes, but with so much more potential. Apparently, Jobs is successfully trying to ban it on the US market, and not without reason—Spotify has taken a big market share in every country where it’s been introduced.
Spotify is one of the first functional web 3.0 examples I’ve seen. Instead of making a new social network (like iTunes is trying to do with Ping), it’s hooked up to Facebook. Instead of buying one song, you pay 14 dollars a month for unlimited listening to all the songs you can imagine.
It’s even integrated with iTunes, so if you have some super obscure song in your iTunes library it’s integrated with your offline list in Spotify. In short, it is a complete work of art—a highly integrated, cloud based software.
So, as for the future of the Internet: My best guess is that in a few years time you’ll still be twittering or facebooking or whatever, but not in a browser-based environment. In other words, start thinking more about software and future hardware capabilities and less about websites. And remember people, this is coming from a web designer.