800-GOOG-411 billboard in Oakland, California - Monday night. Photo cc-by Phil Wolff, SkypeJournal.com.
The editors of Practical eCommerce magazine asked me these five questions for their November package on the future of eCommerce.
Skype, wireless Internet, cheap broadband access, cell phones. How does the explosion in communication technology affect ecommerce businesses?
How does an ecommerce owner balance the offering of services, such as video, that require a decent amount of broadband against the reality that many consumers (and, potential customers) still use dial-up Internet access?
How will consumers access the Internet five years from now?
What new communication technologies do you foresee? How will they affect ecommerce business?
Other thoughts on the future of communication technologies relative to ecommerce firms?
My breakfast club asked about the future of music; my take.
In twenty years...
We'll be listening through...
Wireless ear buds for the poor.
Literal ear buds for the middle class (in the ubiquitous Lasik era).
Bass-range full-body mods for immersive world players.
Everything touchable/viewable has the option of a sonic identity as printable electronics become free/cheap. This means all goods have theme songs, animation, and spoken (Chinglish?) instructions built in; and we're talking about products, not even their packaging. Early cacophony in retail (all those products talking, singing, emoting) leads to more polite sound triggers and real-time, inter-product/brand negotiation for which gets to play what when and for whom.
Lastfm will offer a service to hotels and casinos. RFID your room key cards (passports?) and we'll program the music in W's lounges, hallways, elevators, bars and lobbies. personal music prefs blended with the ever changing mix of people in each space. You're bringing your ambience with you when you enter a room; it lingers for only a short while after you leave.
Live performance regains currency, for its freshness and authenticity. Those 4-hour-workweek folks source a Lincoln, NB, string quartet for their dinner in Shanghai.
Despite Google buying out AT&T, latency remains a challenge for musicians when they play, if not when they distribute their music.
Lastfm is still around, of course, because they exploited unsold/archaic ad banner inventory to sell instant access to live music performances. Combining personal/social music profiles with realtime ad targeting let them make irresistible offers. One click on a widget and you're listening/seeing/playing-with that Nicaraguan garage band you read about.
It may be retro in 20 years (after 15 years on the market), but people still use a TV scoring/fx bot for their personal video channels, sometimes even for their voice chats. With a few cues and clues, it cleverly drops in dramatic theme music, transitions, emergency room sound effects, laughtracks, and other audio. First used to spice up decades of old audio books, the company got rich by revitalizing ancient YouTube backlists.
Google will be how you find music, as rich media, especially those with words inside, become searchable. So you'll whip out your phone, hit the Goog button, speak "most embarrassing song ever" and see a young pre-lipo Britney Spears on the 2007 MTV Video Awards.
Easy movie making: a few minutes of slithering, exploding violence set up the first wave of aliens as bad guys. Prime the xenophobic pump.
-- Part 2 - The Nice Aliens --
Good aliens show up. Only a handful.
You get to know them as people, as individuals. They wear bright colors, apologize for stepping on the grass, exercise restraint, crack jokes. Some have trouble speaking English but connect through pop culture. They wear all-American GM trademarks.
They help our hero get the girl.
And these good aliens serve with the U.S. Army, earning the right to stay when the war is over.
Harder movie making: at least half the film spent defining characters, relationships, showing the humanity behind alien masks.
-- Part 3 - Humans Respond --
At first all aliens look alike, are treated as bad guys. We see good guys captured, threatened, held without warrant, and tortured.
Only when humans personally intervene, risking their freedom for alien friends, are the good aliens freed to fight the bad aliens.
Even then, the good aliens are forced to hide their true natures, to stay in American costume, to assimilate.
-- Part 4 - Themes --
Explicit Good fighting Explicit Evil. (The movie's marketing emphasis.)
Appearances can be deceiving. Less so with people calling themselves "Decepticons."
Xenophobia is easy. Compassion is difficult.
Take care defining "us" and "them" in "it's between us and them."
Resolving the tension between who we really are and how we portray ourselves is worthwhile.
An American Dream is the freedom to reinvent yourself.
You need a car to win a girl's heart.
-- This Transformer Blog Post Sponsored By --
Good guy product placement: eBay, GM cars (Chevy, Camaro, Pontiac Solstice, Shelby GT), Motorola, The Strokes, My Little Pony, Lockheed (F-22, F-117 stealth fighter, C-130 gunship), Xbox-360, Sirius radio, Pepsi, Apple computers and cinema displays, Burger King, Panasonic, Furby, Hostess Ding Dongs.
I shot this demonstration on Halloween, 31 October 2006, in the offices of TalkPlus in San Mateo, California. The video is uncut, no editing at all, including about five seconds in the beginning of Jeff Black, TalkPlus CEO and founder, warming up. The call is from an unaltered mobile phone. You will see the Jeff send a text message and automatically download a Java program. That app shows his Skype address book, and he clicks on Skype's echo123 acount. For those who don't know it, echo123 is one of Skype's first test accounts. It doesn't have a SkypeIn number, so you couldn't fake access by dialing a PSTN number that forwards to echo123. TalkPlus doesn't have any access to Skype's private SIP gateways. So this demo shows that TalkPlus customers can dial any Skype user by their Skype name.
It also shows that TalkPlus has engineered a server without Skype components that talks to the Skype network as if it were a Skype client using Skype's own language. It will scale to thousands of simultaneous sessions. TalkPlus has no plans to license this technology or turn it into a product. They built it to solve their customers' need to talk with millions of Skype users.
Jeff demonstrates that Skype's protocols have been reverse engineered, and proven demand for a "headless" or "naked" Skype server.