The Internet is Dead and Boring

The Internet has stopped evolving and become a utility.

A lot of people are all up and upset about my comments that the Internet is dead and boring. Well guess what, it is. Every new technological, mechanical or intellectual breakthrough has its day, days, months and years. But they don't rule forever. That's the reality.

Every generation has its defining breakthrough. Cars, TV, Radio, Planes,highways, the wheel, the printing press, the list goes on forever. I'm sure in each generation to whom the invention was a breakthrough it may have been heretical to consider those inventions "dead and boring". The reality is that at some point they stop changing. They stop evolving. They become utilities or utilitarian and are taken for granted.

Some of you may not want to admit it, but that's exactly what the net has become. A utility. It has stopped evolving. Your Internet experience today is not much different than it was 5 years ago.

That's not to say the impact of the Internet on the entire planet hasn't been off the charts. It has been. It has changed the lives of billions of people and it will continue to be a utility to billions of people. Just like cars, TVs, Radio, Planes, Highways, you get the point.

Some people have tried to make the point that Web 2.0 is proof that the Internet is evolving. Actually it is the exact opposite. Web 2.0 is proof that the Internet has stopped evolving and stabilized as a platform. Its very very difficult to develop applications on a platform that is ever changing. Things stop working in that environment. Internet 1.0 wasn't the most stable development environment. To days Internet is stable specifically because its now boring.(easy to avoid browser and script differences excluded)

Applications like Myspace, Facebook, Youtube, etc were able to explode in popularity because they worked. No one had to worry about their ISP making a change and things not working. The days of walled gardens like AOL, Prodigy and others were gone. The days of always on connections were not only upon us, but in sufficient numbers at home, work and school, that the applications ran fast enough to hold our interest and compel us to participate. In other words, the Internet stabilized. Great software was developed to run on the software.

Just as a reminder to some, Myspace, Facebook, Youtube, etc are not "the Internet". They are software applications that run on the Internet. Just like MicroSoft Excel is a software application that runs on MicroSoft and Apple operating systems.

The days of the Internet creating explosively exciting ideas are dead. They are dead until bandwidth throughput to the home reaches far higher numbers than the vast majority of broadband users get today.

Few people's actual throughput to their homes have increased more than 5mbs in the past 5 years, and few people's throughput (if you dint understand the difference between throughput and the marketed downstream speeds your read from your ISP, you should) to their homes will increase more than 10mbs in the next 5 years. That's not enough to define a platform that allows really smart people to come up with groundbreaking ideas.

In fact, if you index the expected growth in bandwidth consumption by applications that are heavy LAST MILE bandwidth users (as opposed to the Internet backbone where there is plenty of bandwidth but consumers cant get to it) vs the actual increase in LAST MILE bandwidth available to the home, our net effective throughput to the home could decline over the next few years. The Internet is like a highway. There is plenty of room for everyone to go as fast as the throughput will let you go, that is until the traffic forces everyone to slow down.

For some reason a lot of people don't understand that concept.

So, let me repeat, The days of the Internet creating explosively exciting ideas are dead for the foreseeable future..

The Internet is boring. That is not a bad thing. In fact its easy to make the argument that its a great thing. That it has become the utility that the people who worked to get it started firmly believed it would. That it finally is the platform for any number of mundane applications that are easy to write and that anyone can use and trust.

Just like wheels, printing presses, cars, TV, radio, electricity, water.....

About the author

    Mark Cuban co-founded Broadcast.com, a provider of online multimedia and streaming services, which was sold to Yahoo! in July of 1999. Prior to that, he co-founded systems integrator MicroSolutions, in 1983, and later sold it to CompuServe. He is the currently the owner of the Dallas Mavericks, and writes a blog at www.blogmaverick.com.

     

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