If web 1.0 was about locking you in to software and hardware, the 2.0 version of the web is about freeing you up.
It is about ubiquitous access and alternative payment models.
In other words, the new Internet is about free access to services everywhere.
By free, I am, in most cases, speaking of free as in cost, not free as in speech. The new web is not about not making money. It is simply about generating revenue from different sources.
Think back a decade. If you owned a computer then, it was almost guaranteed that it was a MS Windows based system. You likely paid somewhere close to $700 or higher. It was, most likely, a desktop, and the operating system was Windows XP.
Sure, some were using Apple Macs even then, but the percentages were far far fewer than today.
If you were in business (large or small) the software you used for your work was most likely MS Office (Word, Excel, Powerpoint, Outlook,etc.). The cost of that office suite was easily over $100.00, perhaps much more.
When you ran your computer, you accepted that waiting was part of the experience. If you used the internet, it was a 50-50 toss up as to whether you were using broadband or dial-up via a modem.
Whatever else the Internet was in 2002, it was not ubiquitous and not fast.
You owned a phone, but it was not smart. It might have had SMS messaging, but it did not have much Internet access. What little it had, was expensive to use.
That was web 1.0. Thankfully, that web is gone.
The New Web
The new web, or web 2.0, is everywhere.
Broadband speeds are high, computing prices are low, and the gadget you are as likely to be reading this on is a mobile or portable device (phone, tablet or notebook).
Wifi has become virtually free virtually everywhere (I continue to be amazed that high end hotels can and do charge for Wifi connectivity).
Wifi is fast and takes the power of Google, Amazon, Facebook and Apple’s server farms and makes it accesible where ever you are.
Phones are smart. Tablets are powerful, and the full vision of “the network is the computer” is now realized.
But the biggest change in all of this is who pays for what you use, whether hardware or software.
A decade ago if you used powerful software legally, you paid for it. That was true for MS Office, Intuit’s Quicken or Quick Books, or Adobe Illustrator.
Today, there are free versions of almost all of the software we used at high cost, which we paid for, available as web services. They are delivered over the Internet, available on every manner of mobile device.
The makers of these web 2.0 services are making lots of money. They attract a lot of attention. They are, in truth, software as a service available to a mass market.
But unlike 10 years ago, the versions that are available for free don’t necessarily have a time trap, or a nag screen.
Many of the new web 2.0 software as a services function on a “freemium” model, meaning the free version is very good, very powerful, and free.
They offer a more robust version, or a premium version, for a fee, but those fees are far smaller than the cost of a much less robust application from a decade ago.
An example that comes to mind is Quicken. I have used Quicken in the past, but it was many years ago. I paid at least $50 for the software, and when Quicken came out with a new version, I, like many others, paid an almost equally big price for the new version.
We all did that. That was the model.
Today I use Mint.com to manage finances. It is free. It is robust. It does the work for me.
And Mint.com makes great money for themselves because rather than me being the source of their revenue, I am now nothing but a commodity they sell to other buyers.
I am not the buyer of Mint.com. I am the consumer, but the revenue comes from the services I happen to purchase as a result of engaging with the Mint.com platform.
Web 2.0 is about serving my eyes up to willing buyers of my attention. When I pay for a service, I add to the revenue stream, but it is almost always at a lower cost to me than it would be if I was buying the software.
Another example, this one from the hardware side, is the $79 Kindle from Amazon.
The device is simple, works only on Wifi, and cheap (in price). At $79 it is priced at so low a point that having it as an “extra” device is pretty easy.
Why is the price so low? Because the device is an advertising platform. I benefit from being a pair of dedicated eyes for Amazon’s advertising.
Of course there are many other examples. The point of this is simply to say that Web 2.0 is now bearing fruit and changing revenue development.
Instead of you being the purchaser of a product, you are the product.
What do you think about Web 2.0? Using any online services that follow the “freemium” model? Why not share them by leaving a comment?