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Web Trends 2008 for Web Developers

Written by on January 7, 2008

It is 2008 and time for my annual look into the foggy future of the thing we call "the web"

(read my predictions for 2006 & 2007).

The start of the next revolution

2008 is going to become the year that we will remember as the start of the revolution. Three things in particular will start to happen, which I will explain below, but none of them will be solved. It is the start of the revolution - not the end.

The three things are:

1: Data ownership returns to the people

2008 will be the year when people finally start to fight back on the repeated violations of their data. This will happen both in terms of protecting it, and keeping it safe - but more so in terms of who owns it.

We will no longer accept not be in control of how data about us is being used. We will no longer accept to have our profiles blocked - loosing years of valuable data about ourself and our friends.

2007 was the year when "web people" discussed the problems, but 2008 will be the year when ordinary people start to see the problem as well - and this will be the turning point

Note: Facebook will be the primary catalyst, as they seem to violate people's trust almost every day.

2: The internet advertising model will start to fail

The web is currently run by the means of advertisements, but at the same time it is also starting to fail. The primary reasons are:

Click-through rates are dropping for all types of ads - including video ads and text ads. The effect is that more and more marketing departments will start to realize just how cost inefficient internet marketing really is. At the same time, ordinary people who run advertisements on their sites will see a drop in income.

People are gradually distrusting advertisements in general. We simply have too much choice, and we have been exposed to ads for so long that we "can no longer be fooled by it". An increasing distrust also results in a sharper decrease in click-through rates.

The money goes to the wrong people - and/or there is not enough money in it. Website owners will start to become annoyed by the low amount of money they are earning.

Just to give you an example. I have about twice as many visitors on this site (200,000/month), than there people subscribing to the largest Danish interior design magazine "Bo Bedre" (86,000/month).

To place a single "full page" advertisement in "Bo Bedre" will set you back $14,000/per issue, and there are a lot of those in a magazine like "Bo Bedre" - 111 full sized advertisements just in the latest issue alone (out of 204 pages). This means that "Bo Bedre" have an advertisement income in excess of 1,554,000 per month!!!

With twice as many readers - I only earn about $100 per month. See the problem?

More and more people will start to realize that running ads on their sites - in its current form - is a hopeless effort compared to traditional advertisements. The earnings you make are literally a joke.

2008 will be the year when the current form of advertisements will start to fail - and replacements will begin to take their place (sponsored product placement, viral marketing comes to mind). But, this will happen very slowly.

3: Wasting time will become a problem for many people

2006 and 2007 was undoubtedly the year of social network applications. But, not only that, it was also the years of social clutter, social waste and social shallowness. Most social networks are filled with stuff that provides no real value. We got list of friends that are filled with people who cannot be considered friends and we got add-ons that tell us what kind of vegetable we look like.

Sure it is all fun, and it is something that is going to stay, but 2008 will be the year when people start to demand value, instead of clutter. We will see more social networks applications like Flickr (that can be used by anyone).

Note: This is not a question of being serious or not. It is a question of providing value instead of clutter. A good example is Foamee, the social network application that allows you to "owe coffee or beer" to another person (via Twitter). The act of saying "Hey, you did something for me, so I want to give you a beer" has a lot of value in it.

This was the 3 main points, but it is not all that is going to happen in 2008 - in a shorter form:

  • Interoperability becomes standard for success. 2007 was the year when the need for interoperability started to shine - and much to my surprise many companies have already embraced it via API's. In 2008 you need to incorporate interoperability in order to really succeed. Note this will lead to open standards, but not in 2008.
  • Rich Media Experiences will be much bigger. Fueled by interactive sporting events (Nascar, the Olympics, NBA, NFL, NHL etc.) - think interactive video.
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  • Trusted and reliable backup solutions are going to be a big concern for many people. The big fight will be between online solutions and products like Windows Home Server.
  • Artificial Intelligence in web automation. We will see a lot more experiments and real products that use highly advanced systems to analyze and work with information.
  • TV is going anywhere over the internet. This is already starting, but 2008 will be an amazing year in terms of moving TV and movies online. Note: Prepare for a number of big lawsuits when the middle-men finds that they are going out of business.
  • "Local" is going to be challenged. One of the biggest problems at the moment is that many traditional markets still thinks in terms of local vs. global. This will be very bad for business if you continue to do this by the end of 2008.
  • There will be a lot of talk about Semantics, but it will have absolutely no impact whatsoever for ordinary people. Note: I actually do not think the next big thing will be semantic web pages. I am sure semantics will come, but only the developers will really know about it.
  • China will shake the current way we perceive the internet, fueled by the 2008 Olympics. Many people will suddenly realize just how big the difference between North-American/European and Asian cultures really is (especially on the internet).
  • Google will continue to rise, but its fame will be less.
  • Apple will come out with a new AppleTV, and it will support full HD, live TV, and Recording.
  • Mobile internet will receive a lot of focus, but still not change anything besides what we already see today. But, there will be a lot of experiments with social mobile applications.
  • There will again be made attempts to move productivity applications to the net - i.e. Office, but again it will fail to impress ordinary people, and especially enterprises.
  • Microsoft and Mozilla will bring out new version of their browsers (Firefox 3 and IE8), the web community will love it - nobody else will notice any difference.
  • Amazon's Web-developer initiatives are going to be a big thing.
  • Silverlight will not (unfortunately) make much impact in 2008, nor will Adobe Air - maybe in 2009...
  • Javascript is going to be painful...

...and to keep it very short:

Big things in 2008:

  • Privacy and data control
  • Valuable social applications
  • Interoperability
  • Online TV & Movies
  • Amazon

Experiments in 2008

  • Mobility
  • Social mobile applications (most of them not valuable)
  • Backend Web foundations (Amazon among others)
  • A.I. web automation

Failures in 2008

  • Online productivity applications
  • Google
  • Browsers
  • Javascript
  • Thinking "local" in geographical terms

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Thomas Baekdal

Thomas Baekdal

Founder of Baekdal, author, writer, strategic consultant, and new media advocate.


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