I love the Pew Internet Research group. Great objective data that is generally free to access. I trust them.
They just released this report on the future of the Web and Apps (on mobile devices). Here is the report.
This debate is incredibly entertaining, in large part because it so misconstrued. But first, let’s get some definitions out there:
The Web: Accessing applications and content through a web browser.
An App: Accessing applications and content through dedicated application.
The Internet: The network infrastructure, or plumbing, used to drive most Web and App interactions.
Most of the debate centers on whether we are losing the free and open Web to the closed and controlling Apps. This is also where it all breaks down. The Web and Apps are generally both built on the Internet. The Internet, current attempts notwithstanding, is still essentially a free and open infrastructure. The power lies with the infrastructure, not with how we access the infrastructure.
Businesses have a choice in how they deliver their applications and content. Consumers have a choice in how they consume applications and content. To the extent that we are losing the ability to consume via free and open interfaces it is by consumer choice, voting with the wallet… but we have not lost the underlying free and open infrastructure.
In reality we are not seeing anything new. What is the difference between a web based pay wall and a mobile app, both of which deliver news? They are both in effect closed. Or an App that is simply a web browser? It is open. We can build a closed Web experience and an open App experience. We do not lose the open infrastructure. And we should all rest assured that we will see some other form of the Web vs. App debate in the coming years, the consumption layer will continue evolve.
Don’t worry about the Web and Apps, worry about the underlying pipes, the Internet and the associated protocols that make this fun debate possible.