The Redback Spider, of the cosmopolitan genus Latrodectus – or the widow spider, kills and eats other spiders, generally the weaker males, as part of their mating ritual, a process commonly known as sexual cannibalism.
In the killing and consuming of the male spiders, females not only gain extra nutrition, but take control over the paternity of their offspring.
Since those fine, clever males of our species – Tim Berners-Lee and his colleagues at the World Wide Web Consortium at MIT – began spinning the World Wide Web in to action in the early 1990s, millions of entrepreneurs have benefited from the powers of search and discover with which the Web empowered its users. It began with Archie, progressed through Excite, Altavista, Ask.com/AskJeeves, to the the still there-or-thereabouts Yahoo and eventually Google – the search engine became the warm, sheltered location for a potentially very untidy Web.
Alas, for the men that built the World Wide Web, this very same habitat became the ideal evolutionary playground for the female Redback spider. The Web’s users and the platforms they navigate around have changed and the Redback has its chosen venom at the ready, primed to consume the Web and the legacy the MIT men created at the most opportune moment.
And its venom of choice – apps.
There is oodles of data out there – on websites ironically – that suggest that we have been completely seduced by the Redback temptress and our loyal, trusty Web is being eaten alive. On phones, 86% of our time is spent in apps, and just 14% on the Web, according to mobile analytics company Flurry.
This shift is down to user experience – apps are faster, better and easier to use than websites. And as personal computing devices and platforms shift their operating systems and computer functionality more towards what is performing on mobile, there is a sinister truth that lies in wait for website owners. Aside from how this will affect iGaming affiliates, this could well spell the end of the freedom that created the dotcom boom and bust.
The principle habitat of this freshly-evolved Redback can be found in the walled gardens of app stores, not just web-free environments, but environments where only Apple, Google, Microsoft and Amazon, currently, are allowed to set the rules. That spells bad news for those promoting gambling in a world where affiliates cannot obtain licenses in any part of the world except amongst the sagebrush of Nevada or the meadow violets of New Jersey, or can do nothing to overcome the whims, religious, political or otherwise, of primary shareholders at these behemoths.
However the poison found in app venom permeates far deeper than the issue of posed by walled garden rules. Berners-Lee invented the World Wide Web to allow a collection of scientists to share information and data they were collating whilst building CERN – he could not have envisaged the melting pot of a beast that sprung out of it. The only controls that were set in motion focused on programming language rather than content and this almost enforced competition and freedom rather than stymy it – and it meant any Tom, Dick or Harry could launch a web page from his bedroom (read Zuckerberg – or in iGaming terms, the likes of Skelhorn, Kisberg or Sims). More importantly, it meant anybody could find it.
Whilst, thanks to Google, iGaming affiliates will have a hitlist of animals they’d like to see extinct (Panda, Penguin, Pigeon), they ought to be grateful that the big G actually has a search function that works. App stores do not. Apps have no technical equivalent of the benefits of links. As a result, they cannot operate in the same way as a website from an affiliate’s perspective.
Indeed, Berners-Lee created an environment that essentially forced competitors to ensure that their tech aligned with each other. Internet Explorer has to correctly display Google.com, for instance. If they did not, it would be the user that opts to switch browser – or operating system. App stores have allowed companies to break away from this mantra and focus on making their app stores “the best” and crucially completely incompatible with those run by their competition – and there’s not a thing the Web’s original spinners or their successors can do about it.
Consumer behaviour is being increasingly driven by the tech produced by these companies and the demand, or even need, for the web will eventually dissipate from a tech perspective as a result – and virtually disappear from a user perspective. It is true to say that both Facebook and Google need to use the web to power their apps, but, like the female Redback, the rationale is to gain the strength, power and control they need to remove the need for the Web completely.
It is this position of power that iGaming affiliates ought to fear. I’ve placed a sizeable bet with a prominent casino affiliate that websites will cease to exist (at least as a traffic source) in the .com format in 10 years time and I’m very confident of pulling in the winnings before then.
Affiliates need to shift their thinking entirely and step away from everything they know in order to operate in the shadows of the cluster of Latrodecti Hasseltii currently named Apple, Google, Microsoft and Amazon.
Download: Latrodectus Hasseltii