people think the Internet and the Web are the same thing. They're not. The Internet
is a piece of wire that goes from me to you and from me to 300 million other people
in the world. The Web is software that I put on my end of the wire, and you put
on your end -- allowing us to exchange information. While
the Internet (the wire) evolves gradually, the software on the wire can change
quickly. Before the Web, other software was clamped onto the Internet. WAIS, Gopher,
and Usenet were the dominant systems, and there were companies that were doing
commerce using those software models. I call this the "executable Internet,"
or X Internet, for short. X Internet offers several important advantages over
the Web: 1) It rides Moore's Law -- the wide availability of cheap, powerful,
low real-estate processing; 2) it leverages ever dear bandwidth -- once the connection
is made, a small number of bits will be exchanged, unlike the Web where lots of
pages are shuttled out to the client; and 3) X Internet will be far more peer-to-peer
-- unlike the server-centric Web. This
scenario could be marred by two threats: viruses and lack of standards. Once executables
start to move fluidly through the Net, viruses will have perfect conditions to
propagate. Standards, or rather the lack thereof, will block the quick arrival
of X Internet. I can't see Microsoft, Sun, IBM, or other traditionalists setting
the standards. The Web-killer's design will emerge from pure research, academe,
or open source -- as did the Web.
It Means -- No. 1: Web-centric companies get stuck holding the bag. They will
wake up one day with hundreds of millions of dollars of legacy code on their hands.
Yes, their brands will remain intact, but their technology will suddenly be very
outmoded. Yahoo!, eBay, and AOL will find themselves competing with a new wave
of commerce players that market, deliver, and service using the superior technology
of X Internet. One of the upstarts will Amazon Amazon.