Handheld mobile devices will be the next big trend on the Internet and will help accelerate its spread over the next five years.
The devices will enable users to access information online from anywhere on the globe and the number of Net based services available will vastly increase as consumers use them more and more, according to Jakob Nielsen, 'distinguished engineer' at Sun Microsystems, in his keynote speech at the Web Design and Development show in San Francisco this week.
At the moment, however, the market is held back by a chicken and egg situation. Suppliers do not have the financial incentive to develop such services due to lack of uptake, while users do not bother to use the Net for these functions because they are so scarce.
Nielsen said: ?The true value of the Net is in the services it provides. But we need higher bandwidth and more performant machines. The most crucial thing will be the ability to connect to millions of services, and when there are 100 million things we can do, there will be an almost vertical curve for the impact ot the Net. We?ll get critical mass in about five years, which will be driven by the number of users and services. We haven?t seen anything like it yet.?
By 2003, there will be 90 million Net users in the industrialised world. This will come about because the price of hardware will halve in two years, and will be only 10 per cent of what it is now in 10 years, while bandwidth will continue to improve. This will make the Internet more accessible to ordinary people, although it is not likely to be used as a mass market commodity until 2008.
Within five years, there will be a mere 10 million users in the developing world, however, and it could take as much as 50 years to get the right infrastructure in place to bridge the gap.
The wireless devices that will help bring this revolution about will be the size of a business card, be only slightly heavier than a book, have flat panel displays about a centimetre thick and touchscreens.
Users will still have desktop devices for business use, but will own multiple computers for different purposes, while the nature of things like television will change because users will simply download the programme of their choice from a large database server into their home, eliminating the need for traditional channels.
Delays to the roll-out of age verification for adult websites hasn't stopped government from considering extending them to more websites
Bluehole confirms rumours that Playstation 4 port is coming on 7 December
Atmospheric iodine works as a significant sink of tropospheric ozone, nullifying the harmful pollutant
A temperature rise of just 1.8° C would melt major ice sheets