There is a lot of buzz of late in the blogosphere about this idea of De-Portalization. Fred Wilson got the discussion started and coined the term to discuss and suggest a strategy for Yahoo!. Edgeio explained it the best with the following pictures (Great job with the pics guys).

The following 3 graphics illustrate what we believe has happened already and is likely to continue. The first picture is a rough depiction of Internet traffic before the flattening (View image to see the full picture) 2004 and all that
The second picture is a rough depiction of today – with the mountains still evident, but much less so
The rise of the foothills
The third picture is where these trends are leading. To a flatter world of more evenly distributed traffic.
The future pattern of web traffic

I totally believe that the foothills are rising. The trend is driven by easy to use publishing tools and a thirst for more communities and authentic discussions among the populace. Still, I am not sure that rise of foothills means that the mountains are not going to as high as they used to be… I recall a similar discussion in 2000 when the product/price comparison engines were all the rage. People were debating the value of a brand and why anybody would pay a premium price for a product on I suspect the mountains, that represent the well known brands on the Internet will continue to exist and even thrive. If anything, the rise of the foothills means that the mountains would become even more important, as a bearer of mass sensibility and will behave like mass media. The reason for this is really credibility…The mountains (like mass medium) bring credibility to the discussions in the foothills, and even though, there will be a lot more discussions and participation in the foothills, the denizens of one foothill will need to refer to the mountains to make sense of the discussions in other foothills. What do you guys think?

Other discussion on the subject on the web:

Kevin Burton Techmeme Mike Arrington Syntagma Keith Teare’s Weblog Dan Farber at ZDNet Mark Evans Fred Wilson Ivan Pope at Snipperoo Tech Tailrank Collaborative Thinking David Black Surfing the Chaos Ben Griffiths Dave Winer (great pics) Kosso’s Braingarden Dizzy Thinks Mark Evans


2 thoughts on “De-Portalization

  1. Great post! Here’s another link to add to your awesome list: Web 3.0 and the Widgetized Web by Steve Rubel. (In my mind, De-portalization is closely tied to Widgetization – do you agree?)

    I think you’re right – even if the foothills rise, there will always be mountains. But the question is: will they be the same mountains that we have now? [To stretch the geological metaphor, will a tectonic shift level today’s mountains and cause new ones to rise? Sorry, couldn’t resist! :-)]

    My point is this: as more and more horizontal services become available through widgets and APIs, as features for existing vertical applications and web sites, users may no longer need to visit the general-purpose web sites of these services – they will be able to do everything right from within the context of the domain-specific applications they already use. Instead of visiting Google for a search, for tagging, Wikipedia for lookup, etc., what if they could live within their particular application (a chemical analyzer or an online shoe store) and access all of these services, just like you use a spell-check capability from within any editor, rather than going to Such a change could shift traffic from today’s horizontal-service mountains to vertical-solution mountains. Just a thought.

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