Web browsers, search engines, and
the open source technologies
underpinning them have more or less bootstrapped what could be called a pseudo
home shopping network (
HSN). In many
respects, the dominant language, behaviour, and environment on
The Internet mirrors that of a tightly
controlled, but free-to-view corporate marketplace where almost everything
looks, feels, and perhaps is an advertisement (
Laplace’s Demon is an
interesting idea that if there is enough information about the position and
momentum of the properties in a system, then perhaps you could predict its
future state. In my first article for this year — let’s don the hat of that
This article is not as long
as it could be but expanding into the specifics verges onto the territory of a
Some predictions are based on
anecdotal observations of average users browsing the web.
what the Web Browser and more
generally the World Wide Web
(www) could look like in the next two decades (
To come up with plausible predictions, my technological enthusiasm and bias for
free and open source software
FOSS) has to be suspended to build up my best arguments for the combined
incentives of the stakeholders who affect the direction of the web. These
stakeholders are governments, companies, technologists, and users. This will
effectively be an argument against myself, but it should be delightfully fun.
I’m not a market expert nor business analyst but just a random developer that
every so often works on websites for web browsers. Let’s take a look at my
predictions. It is currently the year
Uniform Resource Locator
URL) will be replaced by search and its visibility left as a browser
implementation detail. The blur between
URL and search term will lead to
users dropping the distinction between a
URL bar and a search bar. The primary
mode of web navigation and discovery becomes search and the first web browser to
get away with it wins big.
The frictionless transition and
Trends also suggest that
users increasingly don’t know the difference between files and folders
on a computer. Perhaps search results or tags will become the defacto
organizational scheme for users.
user behavior will compel
other browsers to reluctantly do the same under the pressure for shared
In the article,
The End of Web Design,
the Nielsen Norman Group discovered that since users
spend more time on other sites, they prefer that your site work similarly.
The significance of the
Uniform Resource Identifier
URI) scheme such as
ftp:// will follow suit and disappear completely
on the user facing side. Reduced parsing complexity will open up the path
towards a full focus on
natural language processing
NLP) as more protocol supports are
FTP support removed in
due to security concerns and no signal consensus.
or “everything box” becomes the standard and search first “omnibars” become a
ubiquitous feature in all mainstream browsers as a user friendly
Microsoft’s Copilot is an indicator of the
current strength and potential of
prompt using search
NLP to navigate the web.
# install firefox and chromium now $ pacman -S firefox chromium
# find and open the 11th edition of ecmascript $ mupdf "$(locate --all ecmascript 11 | head --lines=1)"
"take me to amazon" -> https://www.amazon.com/
The web browser’s bookmarks and history interface will be revamped into a thin
client integrated search engine, and an offline client replica with lightly
cached bookmarks, history and search data. Current iterations of the “new tab
page” trend will motivate this new design. The history and bookmarks page will
look exactly like a
search engine results page
Startups will offer fully centralized bookmark and history storage replication to Users of Google’s My Activity already provide detailed history data based on search term patterns, and bookmarks based on recency. servers direct from the browser. This will be a feature that users want as history management and bookmarking become frictionless and obsolete.
Users in aggregate rarely care about the way their personal data is used and bar legal restraints — bookmarks and history will be a new data collection source to improve search results if it isn’t already. Monetizing bookmarks and history data will be normalized, and companies will use this data to further perfect key ranking algorithms for advertisers and develop new products.
Web browser based startups will need to have both a search engine and a
browser to compete in the new space of the integrated search engine. The search
engine by itself becomes obsolete, since the web browser or rather the
operating system (
do the heavy lifting of discovery.
The Internet operating system
OS) will make its grand resurgence with rivaling feature parity to
entrenched operating systems.
Google’s Chromebook and
OS will become the most
Boot to Gecko
also known as FirefoxOS was a
another predictor and is long forgotten.
for the Internet
OS. This is a device that runs
Google’s Chrome Browser as the
operating system. Competitors in this space will use the open source
OS to bootstrap their own
operating system derivatives.
Web Assembly (
WASM) will become the wild card that
fills the eventual application vacuum as the Internet
OS paradigm goes
WASM will pave the way for complete
Serial Bus) applications are already being
ported to Google Chrome and Chromium based browser derivatives.
by exposing more programming languages to the browser.
Google’s Chrome and
derivatives will knock all other browsers off the market except
Apple’s Safari, leaving
Safari as their only contender. Chrome and Chromium
application programming interfaces (
will become the additional specification that web applications passively adapt.
Since most open source software (
OSS) in the web space is “obsolete” and has
bootstrapped many big players to a “good enough” position, the next destination
is to model the Apple ecosystem
and that requires bootstrapping a hardware stack with the help of
open source hardware
technological walled garden
requires stack supremacy — which involves tight control of the technological
stack down from the hardware and up to software. The race towards stack
supremacy will cause open source hardware to ascend from obscurity into the
light and mature
OSH startups will be bought with capital.
Companies that reach stack supremacy will iterate on new devices and software
quickly without obstruction to create substantially better user communication
experiences. This sets the stage for “eternal defaults” and pseudo carrier like
status. Traditional carrier networks will begin to see a significant usage
decline in legacy communication schemes like
short message service (
SMS) as the
Internet backbone subsumes its function more reliably.
Big players in the market will be the equivalent of
wireless carriers or
Internet Service Providers
ISP). In the environment of specialized hardware and eternal defaults, users
would have to buy another device to have a completely different Internet
experience. Installing, removing, or bolting on software will be nigh impossible
and hard to change defaults will be everything in these markets.
Companies that reach Apple’s walled garden ecosystem indicates that consistent user experiences require tight and powerful controls on application delivery. The Apple Developer Program enforces tight developer control. garden status will phase out their specific browser developer tools to further tighten iteration speed with web application developers by introducing developer programs. Security concerns will also place into question the viability of exposing developer tools to all users and will be disabled by default. As more web applications Possible legal action for US journalist who used developer tools to report publicly exposed sensitive data. sensitive data in plain sight, pressure will mount from stakeholders to resolve security issues.
Initially developer programs will be free to get many developers on board.
Implementation fragmentation will be removed by laying down strict guidelines on
web application development within the Internet
OS ecosystem. The average
user’s knowledge on basic aspects of the legacy web will be effectively
non–existent at this point.
Software as a service
Infrastructure as a service
IaaS) are lucrative business models in the software and hardware space and
will have even greater significance. The complexity of specialized hardware
combined with increasing software
Complexity as a barrier to entry.
results in users preferring
that companies be stewards of their data and property. The process of self
installing and setting up software becomes obsolete.
The subscription model of
IaaS will extend to almost all software
and into the hardware space with phones, laptops, and tablets. Schools,
governments, and other major institutions will switch over to renting software
and hardware indefinitely. The maintenance and repair of rented hardware and
software will be relegated to approved and authorized companies. The software
industry will begin to formalize and standardize key operations into
Open standards don’t make for easy business models — pockets of incompatible fragmentation do. The lucrative unbundling effect will give rise to defragmentation markets and product bundling. The “Open” is a word that holds different meanings to different people. In fact, the definition scope is so wide that its not easy to qualify. In this context open will just mean interoperable. standard’s interoperable by design approach fades away as a complete user experience on the web is achieved by buying interoperability and integration. The majority of content on the web will be generated in silos that do not communicate with each other unless through partnerships or “product bundling”.
If incompatible fragmentation rests in few players, bigger players will buy
interoperability directly in partnerships or integration deals with an Internet
OS. If fragmentation has numerous players, the biggest Internet
will facilitate users being able to buy and bundle services directly in deals
with smaller players. Installing multiple applications that have similar
functionality and siloed
network effects will be tough on
users causing product interoperability bundling to become the
a cloud multi-streaming service is a predictor of the rising trend of
integration and defragmentation markets.
for the Internet
For example, product interoperability bundling for chat applications would mean that users of one chat application could communicate with users of another application.
- Chat: Facebook Messenger, Discord, Slack, Microsoft Teams, Skype, WhatsApp, Snapchat, Telegram, Signal, Viber, WeChat, Line, FaceTime, Google Chat
Vertical search engines will be
APIs that the omnibar consumes. Search bars on websites and web
applications will disappear to avoid user confusion and developer programs will
ensure tight integration. Capital will determine interoperability in this
market, and Internet operating systems will have integration deals for prominent
vertical search engines on major web applications.
Modern protocols are also up for defragmentation. The Internet
competitive advantage by amalgamating disparate protocols by either
Brave, a Chromium based
web browser has already implemented
seamlessly or indirectly with web applications. The more alternative protocols
the more potential for user capturing power.
IPFS(Inter Planetary File System), Tor (The Onion Router),
I2P(Invisible Internet Project), ZeroNet, BitTorrent, Matrix,
IRC(Internet Relay Chat)
Advertisements (ads) will be baked into the experience of the Internet in a way
it cannot be easily or freely disabled. Native ad–blocking will become an
integral part of this achievement with death by a thousand white–lists. The
increasing popularity of ad–blocking will incentivize a
Microsoft has been
adding ads to the start menu
since Windows version
shift to unblockable
advertisements. Stakeholders, mainly users, supported by downstream
advertisement revenue will
have been attempts to
reclassify ad–blocking as copyright infringement.
Internet operating systems with unblockable ads.
Direct cryptocurrency payments will become a short term alternative to the
advertisement model, but its fragmented and controversial influence will carry
it into a merged union with established financial institutions and ad markets as
it meets the requirements of
too big to fail (
The centralized union of crypto markets with established financial markets will allow for seamless integration of Internet interaction fees. Micropayments will become the norm for many interactions you can currently still do for free, such as clicking links, copying text, and downloading images.
More businesses will converge around advertising, and there will be few alternative revenue models. Since all users operate within the frame of an ad market, those who wish to avoid advertisements will pay subscription fees to partially or completely The ad–free subscription model. One excellent predictor is YouTube Premium. unblockable advertisements. The ad–free subscription model will become extremely popular and lucrative as the complexity and awareness of free ad–blocking increases.
Internet operating systems will have feature complete password, data, and role
management functionality. Users will have to enter their personal data on their
systems only once to enable one click registration to any service. This is one
step up from the single sign-on
(sign in with) buttons that are ubiquitous across the web — to a new one
click registration and permission based
One click registration will obsolete completing registration forms in web
applications, and pave the way for product bundling integrations. Personal data
will be stored on remote servers while the Internet
OS locally stores
transitory and key metadata.
Security tokens will become
ubiquitous and modern devices will be authenticated with physical digital keys.
Market dominance will hinge particularly on the tablet and phone mobile markets.
Companies in this space will have their own Internet operating system for mobile
devices. Chrome and Chromium’s specification will be the base, but dominant
companies will eventually diverge and create their own proprietary
their specific devices.
OS companies with dominant market share influence and multi–national
cloud infrastructure will become “global carriers” and manage communications
services in more jurisdictions on the Internet backbone, eventually competing
more directly with legacy carrier networks.
# Hypothetical Market Share "Google/ChromeOS" : 55 "Microsoft/EdgeOS" : 14 "Apple/Safari" : 12 "* Facebook/MetaOS" : 9 "Brave Browser/BraveOS" : 5 "* Amazon Silk/FireOS" : 1 "* SpaceX/StarlinkOS" : 1 "DuckDuckGo Browser/DuckOS" : 1 "Firefox Browser/FirefoxOS" : 1 "Opera Browser/OperaOS" : 1
Brave Software will have
high upward swing potential. Facebook
(now known as Meta Platforms),
SpaceX will enter the mobile phone
OS market by onboarding a new user base.
That was a wild ride, and while my hope is that none of the above happens — anything is possible because money can align the most distant stars. Let’s conclude with a brief look at possible disruptions that can easily nullify the plausibility of everything written before.
Out of a Global government regulation is an obvious disruption, but the increasing power matrix and potential of technology markets to fully bootstrap the much desired mass surveillance state suggests that this will not be the case. of disruptions, one has caught my eye, and it’s the advertisement model itself that supplants most businesses on the Internet. The encroaching influence and ubiquity of ads increasingly suggest that it’s a grand house of cards in the sand.
Let he that is not a shill among you cast the first stone.
Search engines are increasingly looking more like ad brochures and streaming services, like home shopping networks. One might as well If big tech’s main products are optimizing towards an interactive online marketing brochure, then that means the bar for disruption may become very low in the future. the job. The already massive and increasing ad volume push could mean that there is an opening for a new type of fully classified advertising product over the current hybrid personalized and search advertising offerings.
Personally, it’s difficult to find convincing information on the efficacy of ads from the advertiser’s point of view in aggregate. Do advertisers have clear beneficial signals from personalized advertisements? It’s not easy to shake the feeling that it only takes a single company to create an online product that The bar appears low? All it takes is demonstrating that the current advertisement price points are too high. that advertisers can achieve the same value for less money and this party ends quickly. Here’s a few questions that would be interesting to see an answer to from a company with a product.
Is there a way to guarantee a product was bought because of an ad?
What would cause people to pay to watch ads or read classifieds for product leads?
Can we search for, read, and watch by category every advertisement in one place?
What would a strictly advertisement only global streaming service or proper classifieds search engine look like?
Why do people watch Super Bowl ads?
The technology at our disposal, particularly Decentralization in its strongest sense. Depending on who you talk to, centralization, decentralization, and federation all mean the exact same thing, as hypothetically each can have the potential to further incentivize centralization. solutions, should hypothetically allow advertisers to reach more people transparently with better metrics, for a vastly lower price point than it is to advertise today — or at least that’s what I’d like to believe. This appears easy, but perhaps there is a combined incentive by stakeholders to avoid lowering the price of advertising.