Proof the Splinternet is real
by Josh Bernoff
Since I published the post about the Splinternet Tuesday, a lot of discussion has been flying about. See the comments on that post, the post on Advertising Age, and my interview with Kai Ryssdal on Marketplace.
First, let's be clear. It's the Internet applications that are splintering, not the Internet itself. The most splintered of these applications is the Web, but there are others (tried running Skype on your iPhone lately?).
Second, it's wonderful that standards like HTML5 are coming along, but that won't change some things. Apple will still decide what apps can run on its iPad. Facebook will still require a login and much of its content won't be visible to Google. And the iPhone screen will still be a lot smaller than most Web pages expect. This creates dilemmas for site and application developers -- new decisions to be made. HTML5 will not miraculously cure that.
To clarify what I mean, let's invent the "Splinternet Index". This is purely notional (you can't accurately measure most of these things), but ask yourself the following questions:
- What proportion of all Web page views on all connected devices yield an experience that isn't even close to what its creators intended?
- In absolute numbers, how many Web page views yield a page that doesn't render the way its creators intended?
- What proportion of content owners time (this includes content sites, marketers, anyone delivering interactive content) is spent deciding which platforms to support and customizing content for those platforms?
- What proportion of content owners' delivery of content goes to platforms for which standard analytics tools don't exist yet?
- What proportion of content owners' interactive budgets is spent on delivery to platforms where content is controlled by the platform owner (e.g. iPhone/iPad apps, Facebook applications, Xbox content)?
- What proportion of "interesting" Web content (content that the majority of people might reasonably be seeking) is hidden behind a login and inaccessible to search engines?
I contend that all of these numbers are the highest they have been since 1995. I also believe that they will be higher two years from now than they are now, regardless of what standards may become accepted. That is why the Splinternet is here to stay.
Photo credit: Lars Plougmann via Flickr