The increasing popularity of Smartphones and PocketPCs is creating a whole new frontier for the Internet. And, while the current trend is for the Mobile Internet to merge with the 'real' Internet, this doesn't discount the mobile landscape as a key player in shaping how the "Internet of the Future" will look.
One key aspect is that it creates a new front in the web browser wars. If Microsoft is to remain dominant with its Internet Explorer browser, it will have to achieve dominance on mobile devices with "Pocket IE," Microsoft's Internet Explorer for Mobile browser.
Another interesting aspect of how mobile devices are accessing the Internet is the use of Java applications replacing traditional web portals. Instead of going to Microsoft Live or Yahoo, mobile users can download Java versions of these websites. This creates an interactive experience that is the same as any client-server application without all the pitfalls experienced by web browsers.
It also shows that major web players are willing to design their sites for a new application development platform.
The Browser of the Future
I wouldn't place any bets that we'll see a major change in how web browsers are designed anytime in the near future. Whether or not Web 3.0 will usher in a new type of browser or go in a completely different direction is anyone's guess at this point.
But, at the same time, I wouldn't be surprised to see a brand new type of browser completely rewritten with web applications in mind revolutionize the web. It might take a major player designing it, and major players like Google and Yahoo and others getting behind it, which isn't the easiest thing to accomplish, but it is possible.
What would this browser of the future be like? I imagine it would be like merging our current browsers, ActiveX, and Java to create something that can be both a mini-operating system and a development platform.
For you and me, it would be like loading up our office application, seamlessly switching between a word processor and a spreadsheet, and just as seamlessly switching to a massively multiplayer online roleplaying game.
Essentially, each website would be an application of its own, and we could easily go from one website/application to the next.