It All Began with the Internet

Dr. Hossein Eslambolchi
May, 2012

It all began with the “Internet”. It was in the 1960’s that two computers connected for the first time for the transfer of data. Then it grew from two to millions of computers and servers connected all over the world to provide and share information to each other and anyone else who wanted to know. According to the Internet Society, over 80% of the world will be connected to the Internet in some form by 2020. The Internet is the largest “cloud” and as IP is and will be “everywhere” soon enough, more and more people and devices will be connected to the Internet and its role will become increasingly relevant in our lives.

At the outset one could only search for and access information that one had entered into the computer. It would respond with answers only specific to that search. Also, the Internet was only accessible terrestrially through broadband or fiber, limiting where and how one could connect to the Internet.

Later in the early 2000’s the number of Internet users globally had gone up to almost 900 million (Telcordia). Users now wanted more from the Internet and devices connected to the Internet, thereby creating Web 2.0 or the “Interactive Internet”. Now users didn’t want a one way interaction with the web anymore – they wanted to read and learn, comment, tell each other how they feel about things, conduct financial transactions, watch movies, listen to music, play games. All this on the web! This era of the web connected people to, and through, the Internet to each other, so that they could game, chat, blog, tweet and interact – hence the Interactive Internet. In addition, wireless technologies had greatly advanced and WiFi, 2G and CDMA had enabled people to access the Internet from anywhere through their mobile phones or laptops. This led to a tremendous surge in Internet usage and the world of “Mobile Apps” came into being.

This led to Web 3.0 or the age of the Intelligent Internet. In the late 2000’s, where the Internet provided the user not only traditional capabilities that the Internet already offered, but it also, through Smart Tags and Cookies, became intelligent enough to “learn” a user’s preferences and habits and then be able to suggest similar things in the same genre for the user. For instance in the world of movies, tv shows, shopping, books, music – “If you liked this, then perhaps you will also like this”. The world of applications or apps exploded and there were probably five apps for possibly anything one could think of and all these were downloadable at the click of a button.

But users still want more and we are not far away from Web 4.0 or the Intuitive Internet. This will be the era where the Internet can actually “think” like the user. The Internet, based on prior behavior and preference patterns, will be able to preempt searches on the user’s behalf and then come up with recommendations without the user even initiating this action on his/her own. For instance, based on prior movies that have been watched by a user, suppose he/she is on the computer doing something, and there is a movie on Netflix in the same genre that the user prefers, an alert will automatically go to the user saying “You might like this movie that’s playing tonight on NetFlix” and by the way “Popcorn is on 20% sale at the Grocery Store”. The Internet knows from past behavior that the user orders movies and popcorn together. The advent of 4G will bring the convergence of voice and data onto an all-IP network and the convergence of three screens – phone, laptop and TV. The tablet will become the device of the future and since they are being priced at all levels, they will have high acceptance. The use of apps will reach a new high and content will become the primary “meal” that users feed on. TV content, movies, music, games etc. are all going to be the big ticket items of the future. Communication methods will primarily be chat or using VOIP-based apps.

As the Internet become more accessible and more secure, everything and everyone will be on the Web.

The alacrity of the apps and the ubiquity of the Internet have made them a formidable combination and the Internet has become the best-selling story of the “IP everywhere” theory.