Goodbye, Internet – Google’s Eric Schmidt predicts its disappearance

Eric Schmidt thinks the internet will disappear - but grow more powerful than you can possibly imagine.

Google’s Eric Schmidt. never one for dodging controversy, thinks that the internet will go away:

Schmidt wasn’t referring to the actual disappearance of the World Wide Web, but rather our sense of it as its own technology, separate from everything else. “There will be so many IP addresses…so many devices, sensors, things that you are wearing, things that you are interacting with that you won’t even sense it,’ he said, adding that the Internet “will be part of your presence all the time.”

Schmidt was speaking at the World Economic Forum’s annual gathering in Davos, and was making a point that’s pretty close to the “post digital” idea we explored a few years back.

The post-internet age

When the internet becomes so ubiquitous that we stop thinking about it, what happens then? This is the world where we don’t use specific devices to access the internet, but instead have it as an all-pervasive infrastructure behind what we do. As Dan Hon wrote in his newsletter last night:

This is how it works: in Home Depot or B&Q or Homebase or whatever your local geographically accurate home improvement store is, there’ll be first a section of an aisle for “internet connected / smart devices” and then there’ll be a whole aisle and then there’ll be two aisles and then maybe, if you’re lucky, there’ll be an aisle for things that don’t connect to the internet.

We’re right at the beginning of the internet of things phase of digital development. But a tipping point will come – probably some time in the next decade – when it becomes more noteworthy when a particular object isn’t internet connected in some way. There was a point when a house having electricity or indoor plumbing was noteworthy – now we’re hugely surprised when they don’t.

The big question

The interesting question companies should be asking themselves is “what does our business look like when the internet is pervasive, and everything is connected?”

Google is sure as hell already doing that. Better get on it before your competitors…


Image by Vee and used under a Creative Commons licence