Social networking to drive internet maturity

News 5 Feb, 2009

Social networks, the 'internet of things' and the mobile web will help increase the business focus of the internet, a top EU official has said.

Social networking becoming a practical business application will be one of three main drivers for internet development, according to the European Commission’s technology leader.

Viviane Reding, commissioner for information society and media, told the Lisbon Council earlier this week that the internet isn’t yet mature. “Could one say that the internet has become a mature infrastructure, which has exhausted its innovation and growth potential?" she said. "I am deeply convinced that this is not the case.”

But three areas – along with investment – will take its growth beyond adolescence, she explained, citing social networks, the ‘internet of things’ and mobile web access as the top drivers.

“A first driver clearly emerging is a shift from ‘Web 2.0 for fun’ to Web 2.0 for productivity and services,” she said, adding of social networking: “It is today one of the fastest developments of the internet and, has the potential to also connect usages, minds and creativity for business, on a scale never before attained or even imagined.”

Reding also suggested that the 'internet of things’ – connecting computers and non-tech objects via networks will be a big driver. “Economic prospects are very significant, with an estimated market of €30 billion by 2016 for the sole segment of RFID-enabled applications,” she said.

Tremendous payoffs can also be realised in terms of energy distribution and consumption, environmental control, urban transportation, health and care services,” she said.

For this to become a reality, cloud computing will be necessary – although not without good security measures in place to prevent data breaches.

Last, she cited mobile web access as a driver behind internet maturity. But Reding warned: “To make a mobile internet become a reasonable economic reality for Europeans, we must also devote great attention towards ensuring that the ‘roaming borders’ which still exist in Europe, are progressively brought down.”

Reding also used her speech to call for openness online, stressing that net neutrality needs to be guaranteed.