Definition of X- Internet
Many 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
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.
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.
It Means -- No. 2: Investors get happy. The new wave of startups will race to
market with X Internet, blasting old Web infrastructure and commerce companies
out of their path. Internet creative destruction, round two.
It Means -- No. 3: Peer-to-peer (P2P) networking rockets. The X Internet's "smarts
everywhere" design will enable an epidemic of Napstering. Courts, legislators,
governments, companies, and other rule makers will have to contend with an empowered
and ever more liberated, unruly populace -- armed with technology that allows
them to bypass economic toll roads and bridges.
It Means -- No. 4: If you are a Global 2,500 company, get ready for another round
of change. This means: 1) overhauling the skills of your technologists; 2) destroying
perfectly good Web sites in favor of the X Internet; 3) dumping Web-centric suppliers;
and 4) retooling organizations. Change management will get a new test.
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