Futuristic Technology Brings New Web Hosting Revenue Streams

May 4, 2005
With the recent 40th anniversary of Moore's Law and a slew of new technology such as the University of Illinois' new 604 gigahertz chip, broadband over power lines (BPL) and wi-fi, ready to take both chips and the internet into a new dimension it seems as though the web hosting industry is ready for a shake-up. There are a lot of web hosts, like Yahoo!, already offering free or extremely low cost web hosting to small businesses and the trend is moving towards web hosting getting even cheaper. Soon, it may be so easy to self-host there may be little need for anything except a connection to the internet and a cheap software package to help with design, management, and security and the bulk of low-mid level web hosting may be taken from the data center into the home or office for a vast majority of websites. In other words, unless you are MCI or another big time provider of access to the backbone, web hosts are going to need to innovate and expand their offerings to stay alive. That is, to get away from the idea of being a web host per se and look anew at what that interface service between the backbone and the consumer can be. Here is a look at some potential new future pathways for web hosting.

Not long ago broadcast media was limited to television and radio. Now, there are more media formats and machines to display them on than you can shake a stick at. It may not be long before web hosting is analogous to interactive television broadcasting which certainly opens a thousand doors for innovative web hosts ready to offer new services. We're not too far off from a web host being able to offer a television show with many web based "radio" shows already in existence. What web hosts will be able to offer over television broadcasting companies in the future is control and interactivity. Imagine watching a live football game with the ability to go back and watch plays over in slow motion or being able to select the announcers you want to listen to or even being able to turn just one of them off. If you've ever watched a taped game or turned off the sound on the TV and turned on the radio broadcast you know how nice it is. With a little more technology you could watch the game from different camera angles, listen to the coaches and players instead of announcers, and keep the game statistics on a side board.

In a bit father reach, a web host could provide a video stream of "Friends" in any language like, or even different languages per character, give customers an ability to change the actors, or even the setting of the show.

OK, back to reality. Dynamic content like video will certainly slowly replace the static pages of today's websites which brings us to media management. Music and movies are certainly a hot topic in the web hosting industry right now with the government and the corporate world trying to figure out how to enforce copyright laws. Assuming media will continue to exist on the internet, media management and transformation will be another area where web hosts can innovate to differentiate themselves from their competitors and keep a hold on their customers.

Broadband over power lines technology promises to be able to send the internet to anything that's plugged in. With phones, stereos, TVs, computers, cars and DVD players among the machines that can use media a web host that can develop a protocol or at least conform to an industry protocol, an XML for visual and audio media, will be able to send out web sites to anyone anywhere.

Web hosts may be able to move into a media format transfer niche by, for example, taking a movie on a VCR tape and sending it to a mobile phone or an MP3 and sending it to a microwave oven. The point here is that instead of managing and distributing a web site's content a web host could manage and distribute one person's media from all the different devices he owns.

Document management will be another area that web hosting may step into. Web hosts could take documents or content or code that is being worked on concurrently and coordinate the changes over large distances. This would be a valuable service for an individual or a company.

The management of physical objects is another area technology could drive web hosting.

Instead of network traffic management a web host could manage traffic on the roads themselves. At first with onboard computers to advise drivers of the best routes to take to avoid traffic jams and eventually coordinating the flow of all vehicles on the road while the final step would be for even the driving to be computer controlled.

With BPL technology web hosts could manage all the appliances in a house. Turning on and off the lights or controlling the temperature or calling the fire department in case of a fire. The alarm clock might ring from the phone or cause a lamp to start flashing depending on which room the customer was in.

The most amazing and exciting and even scary new technology to come down the pipe in recent years with the most potential to change the world, let alone hosting, since the automobile has to be Sony's Playstation, that is, the technique they are developing to aim ultrasonic pulses at specific areas of the brain to induce "sensory experiences" such as smells, sounds and images.

Or as Sony researcher Thomas Dawson puts it, "The pulsed ultrasonic signal alters the neural timing in the cortex. No invasive surgery is needed to assist a person, such as a blind person, to view live and/or recorded images or hear sounds."

In terms of web hosting this kind of technology could make online gaming dwarf television. It could be used in training, to sell things where you can actually feel what you want to buy. It could be used to produce mass hallucinations in a movie theatre to allow viewers to truly experience the movie firsthand. You could taste food before ordering or experience what it feels like to score the winning touchdown in a football game.

I won't even get started on ultrasonic pulses and the adult hosting industry.

HostSearch has written about this technology before but it's just too much fun to ponder the possibilities for such a seemingly unreal possibility.

To bring this all back down to Earth, information and content management and the ability to deliver content in increasingly controllable and modifiable ways will keep web hosting providers in the game long after a desktop PC can be used to adequately host a majority of web sites.

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