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September 26, 2008

The browser is dead. Long live the browser

GLOBAL -Even though I never really had a clue what it meant, I’ve always been (as have Mike and Charlie) excited by the concept of The Internet of Things. See, mobile browsing isn’t a brilliant experience. Sure, snapping quick tugs of information is fine, but nobody’s going to spend their day surfing on a small screen. I have no desire to try, and I doubt many others do either. But that’s not all the Internet is good for.

Email is a big traffic driver on the Internet. But I bet you (like me) don’t see email and the Internet as the same thing. But they are. Without the Internet, Email is nothing. It’s a dud application. And there’s the rub. That application word. It’s  “the action of putting something into operation”, to give it its dictionary definition. Browsers too are applications, used to access information available through (not on) the Internet. The Internet itself is, after-all, just a network: “an international computer network providing e-mail and information from computers in educational institutions, government agencies, and industry, accessible to the general public via modem links.”

How we access and make use of that information on a mobile phone bears little or no resemblance to how we do it on a PC – except for the fact we’ll use applications. In fact, accessing the Internet from a PC can (and in time will) be seen as utterly primitive. Think about it. A browser really is nothing more than a dumb hole through which we peek, poke and prod around. Think about cross-browser and cross-platform compatibility and you get n idea of just how dumb browsers really are.

So what’s clever then? Well, there’s plenty, actually. I know a good search engine that works (and is presented) brilliantly on my E71. You’ve probably heard of it. That’s starting to get closer to the kind of application I’m thinking about when I visualise the Internet of Things, and the Internet on your mobile. Yesterday I wrote about Nokia Data Gathering. Not a brand new concept, surely, but its use and application is breaking ground where ground genuinely needs to be broken. And what’s at the heart of it? The Internet. But not as we know it. After all, it’s an application running a service. A single use thing. But it’s clever, not dumb.

The stuff we saw earlier this week at The Way We Live Next is true next-gen web-app stuff. They’re clever, use the tools in an efficient manner and present a new and engaging experience to users. But right now too many of them are just ideas. Soon though, they’ll be reality.

I think I get it now, this Internet of Things. Do you?