This was the year that the mobile web has surged past the open (desktop) web, with mobile apps leading the charge.

The success of the mobile revolt has spawned much speculation about the future of ?the Internet.? A recent Wall Street Journal piece carries the apocalyptic title, ?The Web Is Dying; Apps Are Killing It.? And Gigaom?s more recent opinion piece was only slightly less provocative: Is the web dying, killed off by mobile apps? It?s complicated

Both articles cite the growth in mobile web traffic, and the increasing dominance of mobile-only services such as Instagram and What?s App. It?s a distinction that matters. The open web is a freewheeling, chaotic mess; mobile apps, kept on a leash in proprietary app stores, are cleaner, easier, and closed off.

Chris Mims of The Wall Street Journal is alarmed:

?But underneath all that convenience is something sinister: the end of the very openness that allowed Internet companies to grow into some of the most powerful or important companies of the 21st century.?

3rd party native apps started as an iPhone hack. It took Apple a few months to realize that they should nurture ? and participate in ? this behavior, rather than squelch it. In a flash, hundreds of thousands of apps were on the market.

Now, Google?s Android and Apple?s iOS dominate the mobile space. Each company triumphantly releases multiple updates each year. Which one is better? Why choose?

Apps reside in these ecosystems, but the operating systems themselves are increasingly becoming the focus. One key to the future of the mobile OS is the rise of extra-app functionality built into notification centers.

Paul Adams, a VP of Intercom, wrote a blog post with the provocative title: ?The End of Apps As We Know Themmobile-app-versus-mobile-website-639x273.? Adams opens with this simple statement, ?The experience of our primary mobile screen being a bank of app icons that lead to independent destinations is dying.?

Adams? illuminating premise is that some apps functions are quickly being co-opted or supplemented by powerful new mobile OS notification centers and in-app messaging. The future will hold more notifications pushed to the user, based on our preferences, and less of a need to scroll through screens of apps to find what we need.

His post is well worth the read. And, along with his own theories, he links to a number of others who have more to say on this topic.

The app isn?t dead; it?s just reached a certain age.