Some pals and I (the Enterprise Irregulars) are currently having a heated debate about where new industry terms come from. It all started with Phil Wainewright expressing disdain for the SaaS acronym in his ZDNet blog.
Some think that only a ‘big name’ can popularise a new term, others think that this is an old-fashioned view and that the grass roots can do it through social media.
The word causing the excitement over the past few days is ‘webware’. The earliest mention of it that I can find is in webmonkey in 1999. C|NET launched a blog of the same name on November 7 last year. Recent online articles mentioned by Wainewright have also pumped up the name.
Webware sounds like a useful umbrella term when talking in general about services (applications, data and connections) which can only be delivered through a web-connected computer. More specifically, I think they ought to demand nothing of the user other than a modern browser and (ideally) a broadband connection. This would rule out some modern apps like Google Earth and standalone feed-readers like GreatNews.
We’ve had other naming attempts (Office 2.0, Enterprise 2.0, Web 2.0, blogs, wikis, SaaS et al), and each has gained traction but they either overlap or are subsidiary to the proposed ‘webware’ term.
David Terrar, a SaaS vendor and avid blogger says, "As a SaaS evangelist who constantly has to explain what it means, I agree it’s an ugly term." He’s all for using ‘webware’.
Others suggest that users want to understand, from the term being used, what service or business value is being offered. But "Personal Computer", "wiki", "blog", "motor car", only give the vaguest clues.
Here’s how the C|NET Webware blog explained things when it launched:
There’s a shift underway in how people use computers and the
Internet. Every day more utility is being delivered over the Web. Full
applications can now be run in a browser, accessible from any computer.
Software? It’s no longer required. Software is becoming Webware.
There are different types of Webware.
- Productivity applications. Microsoft may own the desktop,
but not the Web. Online, Google has solid productivity apps. And there
are dozens of upstarts in this market too.
- Data-driven applications. Many new online services rely
on real-time data that simply could not be encapsulated into software.
Examples include Google Maps, Zillow and Farecast.
- Community services. Webware enables people to network,
share their lives, and work together. Examples are MySpace, LinkedIn,
YouTube, and SmartSheet.
Do you think the term could catch on? Do you care? How important is naming anyway?
Are we wasting our Easter breath even having the discussion?
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