Chris Anderson’s new Big Idea – that the open web is giving way to a mere transport system for closed or semi-closed platforms like Facebook or iPhone apps from the App Store – is not very new. In its current iPhone-y, app-y incarnation, it’s at least a couple of years old. Wired even participates in the very phenomenon it bemoans, with its very fancy iPad app. (Because it has to: “The assumption had been that once the market matured, big companies would be able to reverse the hollowing-out trend of analogue dollars turning into digital pennies. Sadly that hasn’t been the case for most on the web, and by the looks of it there’s no light at the end of that tunnel.”) And the general idea itself goes back even further – Wired proclaimed the browser was dead in 1997, as he points out.
It’s true that the open, free-for-all web is besieged, but in a lot of ways Anderson doesn’t mention, like the potential neutering of net neutrality principles or the ongoing bandwidth crimp that could hamper innovative-but-data-intensive services – which, in turn, will push users toward the kind of boxed services (cable VOD or ISP preferred content) that has Anderson so nerve-wracked. Like Comcast giving preferred access to NBC’s content by not counting it toward your monthly data allowance (since Comcast owns half of NBC now) or Verizon speeding up YouTube over Vimeo.
There are reasons to be nervous about the future of the web, but I’m not sure the NPR app is one of them. Oh, while we’re talking about apps, Chris, since I subscribe to the dead-tree edition of Wired, why can’t I see the videos from the iPad app without paying full price, twice? [Wired]