In the minds of most over the age of 35, the Web consists of three components: a PC, a browser, and websites that are navigated by either clicking on a hyperlink or entering a URL. This is the Web of the workplace and the office PC, the web of Wikipedia and The Wall Street Journal.
First and most obviously, there has been a profusion of Internet-connected devices including mobile (smart phones and tablets) that has expanded to include games consoles, Blu-ray players, iSTBs, DVRs, and smart TVs. Although smart phones and tablets both support something us old folks would recognize as a browser, the majority of Internet usage on these devices comes via apps, not a browser.
In the case of smart TVs, it’s much more stark, with non-browser use approaching 100%. Of all the popular TV-based online services (e.g., Netflix, Hulu, YouTube, or Pandora), each is accessed via an app, not an open browser via URLs. Few folks go through the trouble of typing in www.netflix.com
on their smart TV when an app is front and center.
So is the Web dead? Of course not, but it is evolving. In fact, it is more useful when talking about the future to conceive of the web not as a particular user experience (and certainly not as a monolithic “website”), but as a common set of tools based on HTML and XML. These tools, it turns out, are extremely powerful, even as they are increasingly put to good use building experiences that look and feel like native applications. The triumph of HTML5 over earlier proprietary web development environments like Flash on smart phones and tablets, along with the explosion of high-quality video apps and viewing on these devices, is now paving the way for similar apps on next-gen smart TVs.