If it was easy, everyone would be doing it. We hear that all the time, right?
That’s the irony these days. Tech has been wrapped & packaged with a bow. It’s a simple button. Need driving directions? There’s an app for that. Looking for hiking trails with campgrounds? App. Language translation? App. Airlines, Hotels, Rideshare? App, app, app.
According to Zippia Research, smartphone owners use 9 apps a day and 30 month - comprising 85% of all the time they spend on their devices….and it’s not going to stop anytime soon.
One of the more interesting statistics from this study was this one:
Citing Business of Apps, outside of China, Apple (25% market share) and Google (70% market share) control more than 95% of the apps store market share through iOS and Android. Depending on how you calculate it, the app economy is valued at $6.3T, yet roughly 93% of these apps are FREE. Free to you means you’re probably paying with your data rather than your dollars.
The evolution of the internet has been described as entering its third phase or web3. The first phase is considered READ - whereby builders were populating the web with information. Taking what we had IRL, and digitizing it. The second phase is considered READ/WRITE, enabling the builders to continue populating while also offering opportunities to code. This enabled features like shopping carts which turned into e-commerce. The commercial real estate industry got its first warning shot with the advent of omnichannel retail and shopping on the web. While malls took a hit, retail changed forever - and it felt like it happened overnight.
Enter Web3 or READ/WRITE/OWN. Web3 is about A LOT, but if broken down, it materializes into two (over) simplified concepts: Data and Assets and their portability, or how easy it is to move or carry them from place to place.
If you have 80 apps on your phone and 95% of them are free - that means you’re probably exchanging the collection, storage, analysis, and dissemination of your data for the use of those apps. Trying to qualify and quantify the amount of data these providers have on you would be interesting in itself, but requesting, collecting, reviewing, and demanding it be destroyed - is nearly impossible.
The second and third largest app categories in both platforms are Education and Business. Most of the people who are trying to figure out the future of work happen to also fit into these two categories. The portability of data and the nature of ‘free’ apps within these segments is soon to meet a demise. Once people understand the value of their own data, they will transform from being the product to being the contributor. Buyer to builder. Web3 embodies ownership - ownership of personal worth, contribution, and agency as well as ownership of digital assets in the form of tokens, currencies, and even property.
Perhaps the reason we’re experiencing Metaverse HYPE is that it’s largely contained to the gaming industry and slowly seeping into retail/consumer brands (Music & Audio #4, Tools #5, Entertainment #6, and Lifestyle#6). We’re hearing it because the signal is aimed in the direction of enjoyment and leisure, not work and study.
The future of work starts with dismantling an intertwined and tangled relationship with disparate apps. On a personal level, each of us has the agency to make this decision. On an enterprise level, it’s more complicated. Legacy systems require more attention and maintenance than modern systems. Engineers of those systems continue to make a case for support so as not to, in part, design their jobs out of existence. Business apps aren’t immune to interoperability issues - in fact, a lot of them are designed with obsolescence. We’ve all heard ‘no longer supporting’ and ‘older versions won’t be updated’ from our service providers. We wouldn’t do that to our people, but we might want to consider doing that to our behavior.
Understanding and recognizing web3 tools is the first step. This third version of the virtual world will eclipse most of what we consider innovative today. Concepts such as interoperability, personal agency, portability, and decentralization will make so much more sense in the years to come. But it requires a shift in thinking…from me to we. We need to rethink profit and how we can reframe our relationships with shareholders. We need to generate more value and benefit, and perhaps even reduce our dependence on profit and greed. If we start with simple awareness, we can shift perspective. If we shift perspective we can change habits and reshape new patterns. Sure, all this sounds immaculate - but it’s the future of the web3 we want to see. Build it and they will come.