You've heard the forecast by now. By 2015, more people will access the web by mobile device than by desktops and laptops combined, according to International Data Corp. B2C commerce will nearly double, to just over $1 trillion. 40% of the world will have access to the Internet. In the U.S., Europe and Japan, Internet over PC use "will first stagnate and then slowly decline." You can be forgiven for being skeptical. After the first commercial web browser was born in 1993, companies weren't breaking down any doors to get web pages. Even two years later, IBM's CEO Tom Watson spoke for a large swath of business when he told Newsweek:
Visionaries see a future of telecommuting workers, interactive libraries and multimedia classrooms. They speak of electronic town meetings and virtual communities. Baloney. Do our computer pundits lack all common sense? The truth is no online database will replace your daily newspaper, no CD-ROM can take the place of a competent teacher and no computer network will change the way government works.
He was right in one respect. The state of the web in 1995 couldn't handle what consumers expected from it. In fact, it took the turn of the millennium for even business to take the web seriously. Just as commercial web was gaining consumer trust, the dot com bubble burst in 2001 and no one was making jokes about Tom Watson anymore.
Blogs and e-commerce changed all that. When online sales started taking off in 2004, the web came into maturity. Now it looks like the web has past its prime and is due for some plastic surgery.
We're at a pivotal moment right now. Media everywhere is getting so much coverage because that's where your customers have already gone. They want to take their movies, music, contacts and data with them everywhere because there is no time for down time anymore. For the same reason, they are bringing their own devices to work (BYOD) because consumer tech is trouncing the PC's and laptops provided at work. HTML5 will soon blur the lines between app and mobile web, so design has already started leaning toward mobile-first, with desktop-view compatibility.
In other words, here's a new forecast to archive in a time capsule for 2015. Over the next three years, companies that hang on to their (now traditional) websites and neglect content syndication for smartphones and tablets will end up spending their entire advertising budgets looking for customers who have already left the party.