Web 1.0 was the mass market’s introduction to the Internet: It brought communications such as e-mail and messaging, as well as services like shopping, to computer screens. Web 2.0 brought more sophisticated communications that were richer in nature and directed at many people rather than one person. The richer overall experience also allows companies to more effectively service their customers and enhance their brand. So what is the next version of the Web, or Web 3.0? It is the services and functionality that will merge the Internet with the actual world and other devices such as TVs, mobile phones and tablets.
The smartphone has already provided the first peek at Web 3.0, and it will continue to evolve. But there are many other examples of how the Web is being integrated with the real world and other devices: Facebook provides discounts and coupons to local business and retailers via its mobile application, allowing these businesses to leverage Facebook’s 200 million mobile users. Google Goggles allows customers to take pictures of ads with their mobile phone to get more information about a company or product. Other examples include foursquare, bar code reading, picture recognition and shopping on a mobile phone, as outlined in Yankee Group’s October report “Best of the Anywhere Web 2010.” Facebook and Google make the trend to Web 3.0 much more immediate as they are able to leverage their brand name and sizable customer base to make these services much more widespread.
This move to Web 3.0 hit me square in the face when I went to an AT&T Innovations Day, presented by the AT&T Labs, focused on speech, Twitter and analysis of both. AT&T offered a number of interesting examples of how speech can be used as an interface to the mobile Web to provide more effective solutions, how Web services can be integrated with other devices and how these streams of speech and data can analyzed to understand their value and implications. These products for the most part are in the alpha to beta stage, and some are being used internally at AT&T.
In terms of using speech to access the Web, AT&T demonstrated using speech as a TV remote to search for a program, command the TV functionality and create messages, all necessary due to the limited functionality of the physical remote control. AT&T also showed how commonly used phrases can access databases and how commonly used functionality like messaging, searching and social media reading can be done via speech. This is important to the evolution of Web 3.0 because voice can offer a smoother interaction on many devices looking to access the Internet.
The second part of this Web 3.0 relationship is analyzing the vast amount of speech and messaging data to gain information from it. AT&T displayed services that allow companies to understand when, how and where they are being mentioned. This can also be done for any database of stored information, including personal information. In addition, it showed services that improve the voice interaction for the user, the voice understanding of the application and the ability to change processes based on voice input. All these are used today with IVR systems, but as Web 3.0 evolves with speech, the Web will become one big IVR system — and it needs to work well.
The last thing AT&T showed was the integration of the Web with other devices to improve and enhance the user experience. This was done by integrating Twitter with TV so that a person could message about the show with another individual or with the Twitter universe. The ability to allow people to communicate about favorite topics can be very popular, and in combination with analytical tools can allow brands and governments to understand people’s sentiments.
Web 3.0 is in green sprout stage in many areas as technologies develop to become the fertilizer for this growth. In other areas, though, it is beyond that stage. The iPhone was a big step that has fueled Web 3.0 growth, and many startups and larger companies like Google, Facebook and AT&T are developing technologies and services to tailor the web experience for the real world and bring the Web to all devices. The final garden will be a smooth and efficient man-web interface that allows people to harness the Web for all devices.