So i was thinking. How is our web universe growing? And for how long will this continue?
See, I was going back several years... say 1996... and thinking of the time when portals were around. At that time, portals figured most people wanted a few things. A website directory (links), news, webmail, a search box, that kind of stuff. So each portal bundled that stuff, and gave it to their audience, and people didn't seem to have a need for more sites. The portal offered everything.
It's not that different from the thinking behind the emergence of discount retailers in the 1950's, where they reasoned most people want a few things. A nice sofa, some cheap garden chairs, a couple of suits. Discount retailers thought it was easier to stock the stuff most people wanted and deliver that easily and conveniently, than stock a very wide array of stuff most people didn't need (the long tail). So the retailers ended up beating the traditional retailers who carried vast inventories and had low turnovers.
Yet the web flourished substantially after 1999, and it appears that the web universe is vast. So people search to find this stuff. And in a universe which is growing, the tools to find stuff are valuable. Hence the big competition we have today in search.
But what if the web universe stabilizes. And yes, content continues to grow, but in only a few places... so a few sites own the vast troves of content in the web. In such a universe, what is the value of search?
Thinking in terms of retail, how valuable is a 3 story video store with 50,000 titles when everyone wants to rent one of the latest releases from Hollywood (blockbuster).
I'm not sure where I'm going. But I thought it would be interesting to reflect on what is happening to the web universe we have, and how fast and in what ways it's growing. Because it can hold the key to explaining where things will go. Is it growing in unusual places, like grass on a prairie, or is it growing in big clumps in only a few sites. I don't know. What do you think?