Saturday, March 22, 2008

The future is Web Services

Remember The Graduate when Benjamin Braddock was advised to go into plastics. The clip is here. It seemed like a safe bet at the time - and it was.

Today the web maybe "the new plastics." It seems like every brand is building a new site or microsite. The Internet feels like Dubai. Some are big, ambitious projects. Others are smaller initiatives like a blog that a small group can manage themselves.

I don't expect organizations to stop building sites anytime soon. However, the Picture-in-Picture Web (what some would call the web services promise of "Web 3.0") is coming on strong. And I believe most brand web sites may not matter in 2012 - unless they have satellites that make the mother ship stronger. The Attention Crash (or what Iconoculture calls "choice fatigue") is accelerating the pace of change. Fred Wilson has a similar point of view.

The leading players on the web all see the train coming. They are wisely creating APIs and turning themselves into plug-and-play services, not just big destinations. YouTube is just the latest to do so today. Amazon has S3. Google has OpenSocial and an extensive library of APIs. As does Microsoft. Facebook is allowing its applications to live outside the site. Twitter is an API first and (eventually) a business model second. Finally, the booming widget economy shows the promise of small content that can go anywhere.

These are the leaders. But everyone - including marketers - will need to think of their online brands not as sites but as portable services that can go anywhere and everywhere the consumer wants. Without such appendages, no brand will ever be able to break through the online clutter such unlimited choice offers.

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