Is the “Third Wave” here or is this just another step in the Internet’s evolution?

Michael Arrington has argued at the occasion of the launch of his new Techcrunch Disrupt conference that a “third wave” in the evolution of technology is here. With personal computing being the first wave and the Internet the second, he claims that the growing importance of social, mobile and new forms of commerce is revolutionary enough to be called a “third wave”.

I generally agree with his assessment of those major trends driving the future development of the Internet but I would like to add a few thoughts:

  • I think that it is rather an evolution than a revolution – social and mobile have been part of the development of the ecosystem since quite some time but have now both reached enough scale to be large underlying growth drivers
  • I would add “open data” as an underlying driver of the development we are currently seeing – as more and more data is made accessible to the public, new and interesting applications will be built on top of this data.
  • The biggest risk will be that social could end up being fully controlled by Facebook and mobile by Apple and I hope for the development of the overall ecosystem that we will see strong competitors and platforms to both emerging (which is more likely in mobile with Google’s Android than it is in social)

Even though the current development feels more like “Web 2.5″ instead of a”Third Wave”, these are extremely exciting times for Consumer Internet entrepreneurs and investors alike with social, mobile, new commerce and open data driving a lot of innovation in the upcoming years.

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