The Future of Internet According to Google CEO - NothingWhen Google CEO Eric Schmidt told panel members at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland last month that the Internet would likely disappear in the not too distant future, he stirred up a hornet’s nest of speculation.

It all started at the end of a panel discussion, when Schmidt was asked to share his views on the future of the Web. Schmidt started out by saying, “I will answer very simply that the Internet will disappear.”

Popular Interpretations

“And here’s what he really meant by this: As wearables gain traction and our homes become smarter and more connected, Schmidt sees a future where the Internet is all around us.” — Tim Worstall, Forbes.com

Expanding on his preface, Schmidt added: “There will be so many IP addresses, so many devices, sensors, things that you are wearing, things that you are interacting with, that you won’t even sense it.”

“Schmidt is referring to the so-called ‘internet of things,’ in which internet-enabled devices from phones to watches to thermostats and lightbulbs are increasingly programmed to be able to work on their own, for efficiency’s sake.” — Dave Smith, Business Insider.

“It will be part of your presence all the time. Imagine you walk into a room, and the room is dynamic. And with your permission, and all of that, you are interacting with the things going on in the room,” Schmidt further explained.

“Eric Schmidt is right. The Internet of Things is growing at an extremely fast rate. Billions more devices will come online over the next decade or so.” — Christian de Looper, Tech Times.

A Consensus of Opinion

By and large, most everyone seems to agree that Schmidt is not really saying that the Internet is actually going to disappear, but merely become so pervasive that it will simply blend into the background.

“Instead, he’s saying that the Internet will be seamlessly integrated into our lives, by way of a lot of connected devices and sensors.” — Hayley Tsukayama, The Washington Post.

“The internet isn’t going to disappear: it’s just going to mature.” — Tim Worstall, Forbes.com

From World Wide Web to Internet to Id

When one considers the transformation of the Internet from conception to maturity, it’s reminiscent of our nation’s expansion into the western territories. In the early days, a trip across the country was a major undertaking that took years of planning and preparation followed by months of perilous. Today you can fly from coast to coast in a matter of hours if you like, or you can take a scenic route by train, automobile or bus.

Similarly, the Internet started out as a fixed network of servers. Access was by telephone (remember dial-up) and getting “online” was a bit of an ordeal. Then along came cable, broadband, cellular phones and satellites. Somewhere along the way we stopped typing WWW into the address bar of our browsers.

As for URLs, ICANN’s decision to add a whopping 1,300 new extensions into the mix is sure to open up the Internet frontier to wildcat development, expanding the number of URL addresses exponentially.

What Does This Mean for Local Businesses

While the vision of the future may not necessarily be right around the corner, it’s essential for local businesses to get started today to cultivate that online presence so that they are not forgotten tomorrow. Already, the lack of an online presence is tantamount to business suicide and the trend is expected to continue.

Getting started online can be a daunting challenge to some but a great place to begin is on these three platforms (Google+, Facebook, and Yelp). Simply having your listings claimed and updated on these three pages will offer a huge boost to your online presence.

We used to sit down at our computers and “go online.” As we are able to “go online” with more and more devices, and as we become ever more connected in a host of almost imperceptible ways, it stands to reason that one day we will no longer “go online” to the Internet. We will already be there. Only it will no longer be the Internet. It will just be.