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Just as the browser rendered AOL’s walled garden of content obsolete, the application experience is replacing the web page.
After fifteen years of building an always-on, ubiquitous network, we now have the right interface for it: the tablet.
In a recent post, I offered some solid research to support the end of PC dominance and the dawn of a new era, the tablet era.
One of the things that make this emerging market so exciting is that tablets offer a new user experience that expands the digital canvas. This breaks out of the web page metaphor, and significantly expands the ecosystem for online communication.
It’s about time
For fifteen years we’ve poured billions of dollars into making an always-on, ubiquitous network, and though my recent skiing excursions remind me that coverage isn’t perfect, it’s close.
But having ubiquitous access begs for a ubiquitous interface. One that activates instantly without the “boot and wait” experience of the PC, and that is great at grabbing connections and switching applications on-the-go.
There are three things that define the tablet a bona fide new user experience rather than a scaled-down laptop:
The combination of ease-of-use of the device itself, its awareness of location, and its ability to serve rich content anywhere makes it a ubiquitous access point to the always-on network. This montage is having a profound effect on user behavior.
To paraphrase one of my daughter’s beloved authors, "I would use it in a car, on a train and in a tree; it is so very convenient you see".
If Dr. Seuss were alive today he would be a tablet user and would find himself using it in places he would never consider taking his laptop. I know I’m now introducing 1960’s Addams Family reruns and science animations to my kids’ bedtime.
This wouldn’t have happened with my laptop, which gets so hot it could be used as an electric blanket.
Everyone’s all about the apps, and apps are about usefulness
In our new app-driven world, a.k.a. Web 3.0, users are thirsty for usefulness, time-savings, and truly interactive user experiences.
The tablet's whenever/wherever capability puts apps at our fingertips at any given time, without the limitations found with other small-screen devices. No-one wants more invitations to be a "friend"; we want technology that can help us get specific things done, and we don’t mind paying for it.
In 2010, app sales topped $5.2bn. Gartner estimates sales to explode to $15.1bn in 2011 and reach $150bn by 2014. (That’s the combined revenue of Apple and Microsoft springing up in the midst of a disaggregated market. Translation: Gold Rush.)
This is a true revolution
Just as the browser made AOL’s walled garden of content obsolete, the application experience is replacing the web page. Developers have heard the call.
Today, 350,000 active apps are already out there (source: 148Apps.biz). Users can tweet, check the weather, book a trip, check the snow report, report a pot hole, mark where they parked and follow a GPS path back….ah, to never lose your car in a parking lot again!
Where there is a need, there probably is an app (or there will be).
This is just the beginning…
If you’re sorthing through how to integrate 'Web 3.0' into your own business and brand, you’re certainly not alone.
In future posts I plan to address the paths marketers are following to deliver cutting edge experiences for their brands, and how different industries are changing their processes because of this richer mobile experience. There is absolutely more to come.