Wednesday, November 30, 2005


Great article by Steve Baker and Eduardo Sciammarella over at AlwaysOn
. I'm actually advising Eduardo on his new company, whose product is a very cool directory & social networking interface for mobile devices. I'm write more about this later.

Cell Death 2010

Good-bye, mobile phones; hello, mobile web!

Take a good look at your cellphone: Remember what it looks like and what it does (or doesn't do), because in a few years both it and the system that supports it will be dead and gone.

"But wait," you say. "We only just got here! We're just now getting 3G, W-CDMA, EVDO, and high-resolution QVGA screens and cameras, multimedia messaging, and all this other cool stuff!"

Sorry, that relic of the twisted-pair landline age became history the minute Google decided to unwire San Francisco. To understand why, you need look no further than the word itself: phone, which as we all know comes from the Greek phonos, for voice. It indicates that the primary focus of the cellphone, the network, and the phone companies that provide that network is voice. Accordingly, they charge for voice calls. However, the real network isn't about voice; it's about the services, transactions, data, and facilities people are willing to pay for. Voice comes as a free extra—hell, even video calls come as a free extra.

For service providers, this is a revolutionary concept—and one that will force an entirely new business model on them. For consumers, however, it's nothing more than the natural evolution of the way they've already been communicating. To them, the transition will appear seamless. They won't care where or how they get their network connection as long as it's fast, reliable, everywhere, and free. Ubiquitous unlicensed broadband will ensure that, and more. It will put an end to the "walled garden" approach favored by many telecoms and transform the entire "off deck" services industry. Once the user switches from a provider-controlled network to one based on ubiquitous broadband (UB) that's connected to the unregulated and free World Wild Web, the floodgates aren't just opened, they're blown away.

Where It Starts
All it takes to start that revolution is one device—a handheld network device, something very like the Palm TX, Sony PSP, or Nokia 770—with a Bluetooth headset. (After all, what use is a QVGA screen on a handset that's pressed up against your sweaty ear?) With VoIP, a web interface, and a broadband-wired world, the cellphone is a museum piece. Get ready for the ODMs in Asia to churn out hundreds of millions of low-cost devices. Pop in a WiFi CF card, and you're ready to roll. Did someone say dumb pipe? (full article)

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