The 10 most disruptive technology combinations

Mobile phones, at number 1, have changed the way we communicate

2. The Web + The Graphical Browser

In a word, duh. The fact that you're reading this online right now may be proof enough of how disruptive the Web has been. Before 1993, however, the Internet as we think of it today was a loose collection of protocols, networks, and tools built by university geeks. The introduction of the World Wide Web in 1991 gave people a way to connect information online, but it was still just another (albeit critical) piece in the puzzle.

The graphical browser, invented in 1993 by Marc Andreessen and Eric Bina at the University of Illinois at Champagne Urbana, gave the Web wings, ultimately turning it into a delivery vehicle for just about everything.

"[The graphical browser] has changed virtually every aspect of the economy and created an entirely new class of major global corporations that did not exist prior to then," says Richard Landry, a new-media consultant and former editor in chief of PC World.

According to a recent poll by We Media and Zogby Interactive, nearly half of Americans now get their news from the Internet. The writing is on the wall--or rather, the Web.

Disruption: Media firms, publishing companies, and advertisers now think Web first, and broadcast or print second.

1. Mobile Phones + Wireless Internet Access

Mobile phones have changed the way we communicate, blurring the lines separating work, play, and the commute between the two. Wireless e-mail, messaging, and Web access will change communications even more.

Data, not voice, is driving this disruption. The biggest news from Apple's recent announcement of its iPhone software development kit was the addition of an Exchange mail applet that lets business users access their work e-mail from their Apple handsets.

"New Internet-friendly cell phones such as the iPhone and G-Phone [phones built on Google's upcoming Android operating system] will lower the entry barrier for mobile Internet services, improve mobile Internet experiences, and introduce new business models," says Kurt Scherf, vice president and principal analyst for Parks Associates. "We'll begin to see mass-market adoption and form factors diversify to include embedded portable devices such as portable media players and game consoles."

Mobile Internet-capable phones are poised to become a major advertising platform, as well. "The mobile phone is likely to trump the Internet as the most versatile media platform," Scherf adds. "The potential of mobile advertising to become an explosively new ad platform is real and colossal."

Disruption: The ability to be reachable 24/7 is morphing into the ability to surf the Net from any location. And it's forcing monopolistic wireless companies to open up their networks to new devices and services.

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Dan Tynan

PC World

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