First, pick up your Apple iPhone. Now go to the Apple app store. Tap on the magnifying-glass search-line thingie, and enter my name:
And bingo! I got my own app up in the Apple app store!
Now download it, please, whatdya say? It is a “native-mode” app of my own personal website, denniskneale.com. That means that, rather than the phone simply displaying a resized appearance of my website when a mobile user visits the site, it’s running a sleeker app designed not for the Web but for the iPhone platform.
This yields cool differences: a vertical feel and a super-fast response as you swipe a finger up the screen and the stories scroll past in a multicolor blur.
This platform thus thrusts me into the mobile age. Over time my plan is to load it up with fresh, fast video commentaries on “What’s Bugging Me,” interviews with the offbeat, rich and powerful, podcasts & instructive subscription videos with advice on career, storytelling and media strategy.
Now for the big picture: Around the world, the Internet is home to one BILLION websites—but only one million mobile apps. That’s a thousand-to-one imbalance, yet users are going mobile whether purveyors on the Web want them to or not. If you run a website and you fail to convert it to a sleek, slick native-mode app in, say, the next five years, you are doomed: Your followers will have left you behind.
Some app designers are charging $50,000 to $200,000 to convert commercial websites to native apps. With 999 million websites needing to go mobile, the web may never catch up to the app attack. At first glance, the collective cost would be unbelievably massive: over $100 trillion.
So how much did it cost me to produce my app?
Fifteen dollars. Plus $15 a month for hosting and upkeep—the cost of a deli lunch.
That is a stunner, utterly disruptive and holding huge implications for the future of the World Wide Web. The platform that provides this incredibly cheap, easy-to-use service went operational only in September. It is run by Dwnld, a New York startup run by one Alexandra Keating, the whip-smart, tech-savvy and not-yet-30-year-old daughter of a former prime minister of Australia. You can learn more about Dwnld right here: www.Dwnld.me
Dwnld’s “special sauce” is the machine-translation algorithms deep inside the code that runs its platform. It can convert, into a native-mode app, not just any website but also most any digital feed: Any Twitter account, Facebook page, Instagram post, Vevo video stream, YouTube channel, Snapchat diary, anything digital.
When I first accessed the service and typed in the Internet address for my website, the screen instantly began to convert the HTML-based web page into something distinctly different—on the fly. This, after I filled out a few simple preferences for color scheme, design, opening art, etc. Super simple.
Incumbent tech companies have little idea this capability could roil their business. Consider, for a moment, the entire business model of Google’s YouTube: a billion regular users, $4 billion a year in ad sales, six billion hours of new videos posted every month.
Yet thousands of YouTube channels that now draw viewers to the YouTube site are going mobile and going into business for themselves, using the Dwnld platform. What will that do to YouTube’s web traffic—and how might any decline hurt ad sales?
Now take that one small example and extend it across the entire Internet: One day the Web could disintermediate itself. Like a massively long python that begins eating the start of its own tail, the Web could start consuming itself with tools like Dwnld’s, hastening the inexorable rise of all-apps and all-mobile consumption and unleashing a new wave of disruption on incumbent websites lashed to a soon-to-be-antiquated land of laptops.
For a good 20 years now, the Internet has been roiling industries, killing businesses, obviating technologies and wiping out jobs. Next up: The Net unleashes a new wave of Schumpeter’s “creative destruction,” this time on itself. It may take years to fully show up, but a glimpse of the future is here. ###