Browser wars

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In the ‘Browser Wars’ section of The True Story of the Internet, the most interesting element to me was the bravery and initiative of Netscape to take on the giant powerhouse that was Microsoft. To me, this tells a tale of confidence and belief in the young programmers’ ability in their skills and their product to literally take down a monopoly – albeit only for a short period of time. As TR Reardon stated, Microsoft wasn’t used to even seeing eye-to-eye with the tech industry, and here was a start-up brazenly looking to show them up.

To me, that was a big part of the war that ensued. Netscape not only introducing and creating a better product then Microsoft, but looking to do so in such a way that said “We’re not scared of you,” which made Bill Gates and Microsoft go into a sort of frenzy. It seemed as though Microsoft wasn’t trying to build something to make the world better (as Netscape was) but rather building something to make themselves as a company and entity better.

This video tells me that to innovate is to challenge the norm. You can’t be afraid of failing and you can’t be afraid to fail massively. This startup company filled with college students had the courage to take on the biggest company in the world and won. They also became millionaires off of it. If you think you have an idea that can change the world and you don’t have anything to lose – you better take your chance while you can.

Well, a lot has happened since this video has came out. For starters, Apple has hit the scene and pretty much made its own category of digital products and services to which competitors are trying duplicate. Everything from the MP3 player to the tablet and beyond. While Microsoft still has a pretty heavy hand in the PC and operating systems world, no one has come close to the kind of innovation we are seeing from Apple.

Not to mention their stake in the browser wars. The browser war game name is different – definitely more saturated with Google Chrome taking the market share and usability front. Apple has a stake, Microsoft has a stake, but it is clear that Google and Apple are the tech giants of now. As long as Apple can keep their smart phone game strong and keep the innovation coming, I think we are going to need an entirely new digital product or service to blow us away before these two will lose their footing.

Internet Search

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As someone who works in the advertising industry, the most interesting element of the ‘Internet Search‘ section of The True Story of the Internet was both the development and implementation of the online advertising that paved the way for the boom of internet search. I am familiar with the way that Ad Words works and the massive marketing research tool that Internet search is, but I was not familiar with the story of the “Big Idea” of turning online search into the Yellow Pages of the Internet.

I loved the story starting with Yahoo focusing on their user experience in relation to advertising because UX (user experience) is a big part of the advertising world today in this digital age. A relatable issue in terms of UX today would be ad blocking and the industry’s push to either understand ad blocking and adapt to it, or adapt ways to get around it. I would be very interested to get these original developers of online advertising’s view on the ad blocking dilemma we face today in the ad industry and what their opinion on it would be in relation to the part they played in its development.

Google’s want (and need) for a more user friendly advertising experience gave way to how we know online advertising today and also gave heed to the powerhouse that is SEO and AdWords. Bill Gross’ story of introducing Internet search as the YellowPages of the Internet is indeed a precursor to what the advertising industry has become. It could be said that this simple approach to advertising has developed the industry tremendously in the way ads are shown to us today.

One way the industry has changed since the creation of this video is the introduction of social media and how users are now more than ever literally giving away information about their purchasing habits. With anything from search bar searches of page likes on Facebook, to essentially using Google to outline purchasing habits as shown in the video, social media and the way that it is tied into marketing and advertising is huge for demographic targeting and understanding.

People

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The most interesting element of the ‘People‘ section in The True Story of the Internet was the section about the creation and demise of Napster – a part of Internet history very near and dear to my heart. Although Napster destroyed one or two of my family’s computers, the implications of music and media discovery for me were massive. Even burning your friend’s CDs for your own use was a big thing for me. Then, when I could individually download and make my own mixtapes that were custom to my music tastes– as opposed to what the record labels and artists wanted me to listen to – there was no way I was going back to traditional music discovery or consumption.

I think the narrator’s assertion of the record industry and of artist’s not absorbing the changes of consumer attitudes and habits on the web is very true in the fact that it would have helped them tremendously in today’s terms of where the industry is. Sure, they may have lost money at that place and time, but I personally think they could better tailored the landscape to make money off of our generation’s way of consuming music and media. Even now you see illegal file sharing drop signifigantly and I myself, being raised on the free (and illegal) forms of music sharing, totally embrace the new outlets we have for media consumption. I pay for Spotify, I pay for music tickets and merchandise, I pay for Netflix, and I pay for movie theaters. If the industry could have adapted to these trends instead of fighting them when it was hot, they would be at a much better position right now.

This shows me that when it comes to innovation in today’s day and age – you must adapt, adapt, adapt. Focus groups and informational interviews are your friends… however annoying and against-the-grain they may be. The advertising and consumer industry professionals seem to think consumers don’t know what’s best for them – and that is a toxic idea. If a million kids are doing something one way, they aren’t going to stop doing it that way unless a better (and usually cheaper) option comes along.

Since this video was made, social media and media consumption haven’t changed so much as evolved. Twitter is now more about news and celebrities than personal sharing. Everyone’s grandmother seems to have Facebook. MySpace might as well not be a thing. And Instagram has been bought by Facebook and is taking the mobile ad world by storm. These companies that are successful adapt to consumer insights and make smart decisions from there… which may be the main reason why they’re successful.

The True Story of the Internet

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