We have all heard the arguments on how the Internet has changed our lives. A topic that is not discussed quite as frequently, however, is that of how the Internet itself has changed, and how it has been changed by its own internal innovations. A notorious example is the way in which the advent of the Google search engine has revolutionised the Internet.

This article does not wish to provide a full analysis of the Google phenomenon – such an aspiration would require a much more extensive treatment than we are about to provide. However, there is one aspect of the Google revolution that we’d like to point out: the decay of portals.

Experts used to believe that the default home pages for Internet surfers would not be search engines, but portals. Portals were conceived of as extensive home-sites with multiple connections, divided by category. A user would be able to access news, content and archives via the portal while simultaneously operating a number of custom choices – for instance, he or she could have selected a preferred publications to be the default news provider and the portal would always display it on the homepage. A portal would then give access to a variety of functions, according to the particular needs and desires of the user.

This concept fell out of fashion with the appearance of Google, a search engine so efficient that it did away with the need for centralized search sites. There was no requirement for an interactive virtual architecture anymore, because all functions could be accessed with much greater speed through the simple Google taskbar.

Now the really interesting question that nobody seems to have asked is this: is the original prediction of the Internet experts actually coming true? For, despite the enormous influence of Google, we are now witnessing the emergence of a new type of virtual platform that centralises and performs a variety of tasks while flexibly adapting itself to the need of the individual consumer. We are talking about tablets.

Tablets perform every single task that has ever been predicted for portals, and more. Comparing the old go.com toolbar with the features highlighted in these BlackBerry PlayBook Reviews show that the tablet is clearly coming up on top in terms of available functions and applications. The reason why tablets are so popular is that they provide a material, hand-held way of carrying around the tools of a computer along with the Internet. For this reason, they cannot be outdone by Google – simply because Google becomes integrated into the tablet itself. Another BlackBerry PlayBook Review also demonstrates specifically how search engines (along with email and browsing) are integrated into the experience of the tablet.

So perhaps the experts did get it right, back in the day. It only happened a little later than they anticipated – and it turned out to need a solid, portable infrastructure to come into being, such as the one that is being provided by tablets. Are tablets the new portals? Definitely, but with one important distinction – you can carry them with you at all times and anywhere you go.