Ben Evans penned his best post of the year last week, which has kept me thinking on it since. One problem I have with it is its title, though. I have trouble distinguishing between mobile and the web at this point. What we call phones refer to a fraction of the utility I receive from mine, and any business that creates its value on the “connected world” (my preferred noun for what includes mobile, web, the internet, etc.) needs to think of these platforms in a unified manner.
The topic is a vast one. It touches on
- programming frameworks
- the future of native apps vs. evolved browsers
- whether we will continue to rely on legacy input/output interfaces such as mice, keyboards, touch screens, LCD displays, etc.
- how we navigate and ultimately get to where we need in the massive world of data and information.
I am not smart enough to wrap my mind around what we have coming. I do, however, notice that the final point on the list above is exciting a lot of entrepreneurs. It’s the quest for the new search paradigm. Google’s Page Rank was a great benchmark, in its speed and accuracy, for our expectations on how our information needs are met.
For the next generation of solutions, Fred Wilson is proposing that we rely on contextual runtimes. I like his examples:
If I’m building a lunchtime meal delivery service for tech startups, that’s a Slack bot.
If I’m building a ridesharing service, that’s going to run in Google Maps and Apple Maps.
If I’m building a “how do I look” fashion advisor service, that’s going to run in Siri or Google Now.
If I’m building an “NBA dashboard app”, that is mostly going to run on the mobile notifications rails.
I find myself thinking about where context will reside, whether on the cloud or the mobile OS, and how much will be implicit versus explicit. Essentially, we are looking for better ways to sniff for intentions, the way Google persuaded us to type it into a search box.