The recent shift from the browser being the center of Internet connectivity to the operating system has resulted in a change in the mobile device landscape. Specifically as it relates to mobile advertising revenue. If you have no idea what I am talking about consider Google’s ChromeOS, built from the ground up to be an Internet connected operating system. It runs it’s apps from the cloud and is essentially a suped up browser. Something very similar could have been said of WebOS when it was first introduced with the Palm Pre in June 2009. Even the name is suggestive of such a shift.
What made WebOS unique, at it’s introduction, was it’s card approach to multitasking and that it was the first operating system to be designed from the ground up to be Internet connected. Apps ran side by side and looked like playing cards when switching between them. To close an app you simply had to flick the card off the screen. Developers could easily create apps for the platform since the development language was HTML. If considered as an OS this was definitely a unique approach, and the playing card design made for an interesting shift in paradigms. If, however, you consider the OS as a whole to simply be a suped up browser – then this isn’t very unique at all.
Actually, the safari browser from Apple’s iPhoneOS, at the time, had a very similar implementation for switching between web apps. Pages looked like cards which you could simply slide between. The difference was that instead of flicking the cards off the screen there was an x in the upper left corner to close a webpage. Apple’s vision, when the iPhone was first introduced, was that apps would no longer have to run natively on mobile devices. Instead web apps would become the norm in the industry. There was no app store or many native running apps when the iPhone came out.
Yet people wanted native apps and lots of them. Apps that were “aware” of their environment and that were designed with an “always connected” philosophy. The installer and Cydia applications available to jailbreakers, became the forerunners to today’s app stores. Now Apple’s App Store contains over 100,000 Internet connected apps. Essentially, one is no longer confined to the browser to use and interact with the Internet. The Internet has become a backend to many natively running apps. This is referred to recently as the cloud or cloud computing. It is the cloud revolution and brings the power of server technology down to our mobile devices.
What this means for Google, and perhaps other companies, is that the search page is no longer going to be suitable enough to collect advertising revenue. Google needs to become the operating system, because this is the new gateway to the Internet, and they have been the gatekeepers for a while now. Hence, we find ourselves today seeing Google and Apple as direct competitors, with other companies, like HP, being left out in the cold.