Web dev at the end of the world, from Hveragerði, Iceland

Focusing on market share blinds you to growth

According to data from comScore, for example, the overall time spent online with desktop devices in the U.S. has remained relatively stable for the past two years. Time spent with mobile devices has grown rapidly in that time, but the numbers suggest mobile use is adding to desktop use, not subtracting from it.

Mobile Isn’t Killing the Desktop Internet by Jack Marshall

As many commentators pointed out at the time that article was published: mobile phones aren’t killing desktops, they’re killing our free time.

Tech and media obsess over percentages and pay no attention to the underlying values. They regularly bleat headlines like ‘new thing totally dominates old thing!’ and most of us don’t notice that the old thing has actually grown in use, value, and reliability. Too often we assume that all new pieces of tech are replacing the old when they are just as often additive.

Desktop versus mobile is just one example. There are many more.

Listen to pundits, developers and journalists and you’d think that nobody uses forums anymore or that not one email has been sent since 2010.

But email, forums, and even blogs are still roughly as big as they were ten years ago, modulo an unsustainable VC-subsidised blip or two.

The tech trends that do tend to die off are those that aren’t sustained by communities. The generic trendsetter blog phenomenon from several years ago wasn’t particularly sustainable because each blog ‘island’ generally only had one inhabitant: the blogger. The ones that survived tended to have strong communities.

Any part of the web or internet that takes on the characteristics of a small township—a small community united around shared needs—is going to last, no matter what the overall percentages of the market look like.

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