Does the move to mobile signal R.I.P Windows, Google, Flash?

New media futurist Roger MacNamee

A remarkable piece by venture capitalist Roger MacNamee on those genius TED talks, reveals a massive move to mobile and tablets from the “desktop” universe that could herald the end of Windows and Flash. 

What follows is the rapid move from traditional applications, like Windows, to the wonderful world of apps, and from local storage to the cloud.  Because of this, Windows is dying at a startling rate, according to MacNamee.

MacNamee is a co-founder and managing partner of Elevation Partners, a private equity firm that has $1.9 billion invested in intellectual property, media and entertainment firms.   

Windows’ market share has dropped from 90% three or four years ago to 50% today and to a likely sub 30% share a year or so from now. The reason for this is Windows is simply not compatible with the new dominant platform and neither is Flash. So R.I.P Windows and Flash.

Another startling point Roger makes is that the almighty Google search engine is in retreat as index search itself declines. Google accounted for 90% of the searches on the web a few years ago, however, according to MacNamee, the web is packed with so much trash, amongst treasures, that people are using more specialized and targeted searches via LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Trip Advisor, Yelp, etc. 

Future lies in app-based mobile platforms 

David RosenSince these search portals are more focused, they are more effective at cutting through content and yielding satisfying results.

While commoditization of web index search has led to decline, a bigger factor is that it’s not optimal for mobile platforms. Mobile platforms are app-based and therefore that is where our digital futures lie.

In the new mobile/platform landscape, Apple is the big winner in a landslide. Besides essentially inventing the app, Apple is predicted to gain a market share as high as 80% in web enabled devices, very close to its domination in the iPOD arena.

Apple’s cost structure is so favorable that their margins on these devices are often higher than the retail prices of their competitors. Apple not only will dominate in devices but also in the world of content.

How this change impacts advertising

How does this impact us in the ad biz?  For content creators the news is good, demand for compelling content will remain strong.  For advertisers, the landscape is a bit muddy. Right now, mobile offers a mixed bag of capabilities for targeting prospects. 

For advertisers, some of the same abilities to reach highly segmented audiences are still available on mobile through display, search, ppc, etc., through traditional index search but index search is much less likely in a Mobile environment.

Purely mobile ad platforms, like Admob and iAd have rather primitive ability for targeting audiences; they are limited to platform, geography.  Packagers and networks are limited to publisher inventory, which tends to be pretty limited at this stage.  These services will easily get you clicks but conversions rates are often dismal.

The present state of mobile advertising negates the web’s most powerful advantages of focus and selectability.  Presently, Mobile advertising is only recommended for brand recognition campaigns consistent with the Apple iAd charter.

Apparently our futures are now firmly rooted in the tablet and the app and the effects of this will be demonstrated in a dramatic shift in influence for some of the most dominant players in of the last decade.

Or not.

David Rosen is an independent director, new media evangelist, and well known Chicago-based provocateur.