Web 3.0: Converging the cloud and the web

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cloud_small.jpgADOTAS – Imagine getting a new laptop computer during the holidays, starting it up and automatically having your personal files, pictures and address books at your fingertips without ever having to transfer or load a single application or document. With a few clicks and a single login, your information is right there.

Or think about how fast and easy it would be to collect your favorite applications, files, music, photo volumes and more –- digitally save and maintain them in a single remote location and then be able to access all of them from any handheld or computer anytime and anywhere.

Sound intriguing? What makes these scenarios even more compelling is that they are more than interesting ideas. They will be pervasive in a few years with the evolution of Web 3.0 and cloud computing. The implications of this shift are far reaching for not only consumers but also businesses, especially software publishers and other high-tech companies that have a significant Web presence. In fact, the paradigm for e-commerce and the business models that support it have already started to change.

However, the path to Web 3.0, like its predecessors, is going to be more of journey rather than an event.

Once again the Internet is changing how business is done. Social networking, for instance, is creating a whole new way for software game publishers to monetize the online sales of their products. Community is fast becoming one of the strongest mechanisms used in gaming to promote adoption and commerce.

Web 2.0 technology draws consumers into a game through free-to-play offers and then keep them engaged by spending a few dollars on new outfits, weapons and other virtual gear; chatting online with friends; watching videos; and more — accomplishing all this without ever leaving the game experience.

By effectively tapping into these viral communities of game play, publishers can merchandise expansion packs or sequels, run viral marketing programs, use a common wallet across games to support microtransactions and sell third-party content. It is in this completely interactive online scenario — where commerce, community and connection to the consumer merge – that more and more of today’s game profits are made.

While Web 2.0 has made important contributions to the Internet experience, Web 3.0 is already evolving. There are ongoing discussions about what Web 3.0 is and what it means for online business. It could include many different things as it evolves: Many industry experts believe that Web 3.0 will be even more significant in its potential to create change and opportunity for the software industry. It has the power, for instance, to redefine both the technology and economics of how software is sold.

Even in its early stages, Web 3.0 is already changing the face of computing by enabling users to tap into software and services stored in data centers rather than on a user’s PC — a model which already has become widely known in IT circles as cloud computing.

As part of cloud computing, user applications are being transformed into rich Internet applications. Instead of pedestrian computing functionality — like conducting online searches with words — Web 3.0 offers users a richer application tier with far more logic. The breakthrough is when the technology itself is aggregated from the client and put on the web.

In a Web 3.0 world, the way users experience the Internet will once again be different — because content and applications will live up in the “cloud,” users will be able to experience the Web on a phone — or move from device to device — instead of being limited to a PC. Advancements in usability will be key and will need to catch up in order for this new multiplatform paradigm to succeed.

Not only will Internet users face changes with the emergence of Web 3.0, but so will companies conducting commerce over the Web. Whole e-business models will be revisited.

Think about the software industry for a minute and how its development, marketing and sales approaches might be impacted by a cloud computing model. For example, how should publishers structure their applications to transition them from a user to an Internet application? How will the profile of the customer change? Will the customer be the service provider who hosts the applications in the cloud or the end user accessing the applications from the cloud? How will customers pay for their applications — will they pay per click or pay by subscription?

In the near term, there may be more questions than answers where Web 3.0 is concerned. What we know with certainty, however, is that Web 3.0 is more open and collaborative than any technology of the past — and it is definitely a critical force in the future of computing.

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