2015 TRENDS — WEB 2.0 – ENDANGERED SPECIES?

Whatever happened to web 2.0?

Is Web 2.0 like the dodo -- extinct?
Is Web 2.0 like the dodo — extinct?

A few years ago (2006-10ish) we saw a lot of desktop computer functionality get imitated by web-browser based tools, a lot of them for free.  For awhile it seemed like you do almost anything on the computer for free if you just got the Google search term right – voice output, word prediction, OCR, visual organizing, layout, mind-mapping etc. etc.

Now, it’s not that those free options have disappeared entirely; it’s just that the free ones stopped getting markedly better.  We had that steep curve of new innovations and development prompting teachers to say “Wow, you can do that on the Internet!” and scrambling to jot down URL’s.

panda picture
Or is web 2.0 more like the Panda: charming, threatened but perseveres in small numbers in specific habitat.

But have you noticed how that development innovation curve has decidedly leveled off as we reach the midpoint of the decade?

At least for the free stuff it’s leveled off.

Not surprisingly, developers decided that they needed to eat too.  Back in the early days of free-stuff-over-the-net there was a thought that a developer with a great idea could make her money through advertising.  Or by selling the site and the tools to a Microsoft or Google or some other giant — let them figure out how to make the money.

But then two new business models emerged that really encroached on Web 2.0 habitat and put it on the path to extinction.

1) Apps

The success of iPads/iOS/app model that Apple pioneered has now been emulated by Google (in both Android and more recently Chrome) and Windows 8.  Even though a lot of iPad apps are web connection dependent with functionality in the cloud (i.e. a lot like Web 2.0), you don’t use the web browser to access them, you download and install an app.  So with iOS, Apple switched Web 2.0 for apps. And the other app environments followed suit. The advantage to whoever runs the appstore in question – iTunes (Apple iOS), GooglePlay (Chrome and Android), Windows Store (Win 8 apps) — is obvious; they would make no money off of a web-based subscription, but they make a hefty commission from every appstore sale (generally around 30%).

1) Freemium; this is where you get a certain amount of features for free but if you want to use a tool in any consistent and functional way, without advertising invading your screen space, you pay a subscription.

A lot of the assistive technology companies have released apps  (model 1) but have found that just the app sales will not sustain them and pay for supporting the product.  So the trend that has emerged, is a subscription and/or freemium (model 2). Often an app is part of the subscription or some ability to share the materials from the cloud-based tool to the iPad.

In our space, just in the past 12 months we’ve seen the launch of:

  • Co:Writer Universal, the platform independent version of the best word prediction tool. They released an excellent iPad app, you can buy but it’s also rolled into the universal subscription.  That subscription also gives you Chromebook/Windows 8 and Mac access.
  • Symwriter Online, the symbolizing wordprocessor in English and French can share out to activities and materials to any computer and iPad.
  • ChooseIt Maker 3 creation tool for simple choice activities targeted at users with intellectual challenges. You can share the activity out to an iPad and other platforms
  • uPAR, reading accommodation and assessment tool

This is in addition to Kurzweil 3000 Web license that comes with a firefly iPad App and firefly web browser based version.  But it too is sold as an annual subscription.

Disagree?  Web 2.0, not as at-risk as I think?  Let me know.

-Bogdan Pospielovsky

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