Tuesday, May 1, 2007

The Final Frontier?

There's been a lot of speculation about Web 3.0 and what that will mean in the coming months and years. A quick recap - Web 1.0 was simply push technology, technology similar to a newspaper where a central editor pushed out content to you. Web 2.0 (where we are now) combined Ajax (pages reload with hitting refresh, similar to Google Maps) with an interactivity feature like a blog, social network, or rating system with the first Web 2.0 properties being Amazon.com, eBay, and Craigslist. Web 2.0 has definitely made an impact on the current web with nearly all sites offering these features and valuations skyrocketing into the billions (see YouTube). The most important aspect of Web 2.0 though is the fact that it is so engaging that Web 2.0 sites are one of the stickiest sites on the Web and one of the most visited (behind search engines). Now if you think about where the majority of us spend our time it is on video games. Yes, even older women spend time playing video games online, since games include not just Grand Theft Auto but Sudoku and FreeCell.

So what's the point of this recap? Well, its definitely to figure out where the Web is going. There's been a lot of hype over Second Life (kind of a Sims like game where there really is no point). There's also been a lot of hype over video games including Sony's Virtual World for PS3 users. What about the combination? Hitwise came out with a report yesterday about how quickly virtual worlds have been growing and Runescape is #1 with 44% of marketshare to online worlds with Webkinz coming in a distant second with 14%. This, of course, does not include downloaded virtual worlds like Second Life, or the ever popular World of Warcraft, although I think at some point Web based games may overtake these downloaded versions.

The virtual worlds cannot be ignored. I think that we all like the aspect of the interface coupled with the Web 2.0 characteristics of real people that we can interact with. Brands now will have that intricate product placement opportunity ever so prevalent with video games, an ability to monitor dialogues, and a chance to see what people will create and do with their brands given a blank slate. Is this Web 3.0? Many think so. Many think that its simply a way of representing Web 2.0 in 3D space. I think that if its not Web 3.0 at least it will be Web 2.5.

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