I have been thinking of the "apps breaking the web" meme over the last couple of months. The issue is adjacent in my mind to the "mobile strategy" topic I recently blogged about. And there has been a collection of smart writing on the issue from Anil Dash, Scott Hanselman, Semil Shah and most recently, Felix Salmon, who are exploring the effects of not just native apps, but also large consumer content services, on the networked structure of the internet.
As I think of the topic, it's now becoming clear to me that the constant breaking of the chaotic network structure is in the nature of such chaotic networks. The needs are driving progress and progres keeps moving the intelligence and contecxt of the network from the center to the edges back to the center, and so on…
You can see this in the usenet > aol > geocities > typepad > facebook > twitter pattern. We are now going through a centralization period, where Facebook (with its identity layer ownership) and Apple (with its App distribution power) are consolidating the intelligence and the context of the network. The needs of the users, and the reality of pwerful computers in everyone's pocket with a fat pipe to the sky, will allow innovators to push it back to the edges.
It's this innovation cycle that has been creating enormous value, as it keeps finding new solutions to new problems.