Having just wrapped up a review of the top 10 stories of 2006, I feel compelled to make predictions about the future. I love looking forward, so I should relish this opportunity, right? The problem, of course, is that I can’t leverage any of the proprietary, not-yet-announced information that I have access to as a Sprint employee, which makes this challenging. How do I not predict things that I’m excited about happening?
Oh well, understanding that the below list is necessarily incomplete, here’s my shot at ten things that will redefine mobility (with a bit of a U.S. focus) by the end of the year 2007:
1. Cingular will disappear.
Okay, this one’s a layup. With AT&T having just completed the acquisition of BellSouth, putting Cingular under the ownership of a single company (AT&T) and with AT&T having already
hinted indicated that they’ll go back to the AT&T Wireless brand instead of Cingular, this is just a matter of time (and I don’t think it will be 12 months).
2. Sprint Nextel Corp. will launch WiMax in at least one market.
Another layup (I hope). My employer has already announced that WiMax will at least be in trial mode in a couple of markets by YE2007. Still, I think this is a big deal, so it’s worth mentioning.
3. Verizon Wireless will start moving away from “network” messaging.
I’m going out on a limb on this one. I don’t expect Verizon to totally move away from messaging around the network, but with Cingular and Sprint both having taken real steps to eliminate any Verizon leadership and both having “network” messages in the market, Verizon likely will start looking for something else to hang their hat on. I imagine they’ll still have enough “network” messaging to feed the “Verizon has the best network” perception (vs. reality) that will linger in folks’ minds.
4. Most cellphones will include at least a 2Mpixel camera.
Just a year ago, anything more than VGA (640×480) was considered extravagant. It’s a bit of a stretch, but I predict that the current crop of 1+ Mp phones will give way to 2+ Mp phones by the end of the year.
5. The breakout phone of the year will be popular because of usability, not style.
The hot phones of 2005 and 2006 were slim and stylish. The hot phone of 2007 probably won’t be “ugly,” but phones are becoming much more than just something folks talk on. The popularity of 2007’s hottest phone will be defined by breakthrough usability which will unleash powerful functionality for the mass market. (Okay, maybe this is just wishful thinking, but it’s my list…)
6. People watching TV or downloading/streaming music on their phones will no longer seem fantastic.
This one’s a big stretch. Today, when I show someone live TV on my phone the reaction is “Wow!” Similarly, the concept of over-the-air downloads or streaming of music is “incredible.” I’m hoping these will be as accepted by year end as performing the same activities over the Internet are today.
7. At least one major consumer electronics company will announce mobile bandwidth built into a consumer product.
And no, I don’t mean a laptop or PDA… The mobility revolution will lead to mobility being built into virtually every product that today has a microprocessor in it. That may take 20 years, but I’m guessing it will start in 2007 with one.
8. Context will begin showing up in an increasing number of mobile applications.
This year, we’ve seen how the integration of location into major search engines translates into dramatically increased value. In 2007, we’ll see location and other forms of context into more and more products, and by doing so, create new value for their customers.
9. Clearwire will offer mobile voice over WiMax in at least one market.
This is my big disruptive guess and it’s a huge stretch. But listen to Craig McCaw: “Our goal has always been to look at the wants and needs that people have in ways the major carriers didn’t have interest or time to pursue. Clearwire is delivering on this goal by providing services that are differentiated from everything else that is currently available. We are seeing the same phenomenon today that we saw in cellular more than 20 years ago – people like the idea of not being tied to a specific location by a cable in order to communicate and access information.” In the middle of 2006, Clearwire’s press releases emphasized Voice over IP over Clearwire’s fixed WiMax services. At the end of 2006, Clearwire’s PR focus shifted to the “portability” of their WiMax services. I’m guessing they get those two working together as a “mobile voice” offer by the end of 2007.
10. This blog will be significantly higher profile.
The Law of Mobility blog was launched in March of this year and has enjoyed tremendous growth, but still mostly flies under the radar. My hopeful anticipation is that traffic will more than triple December 2007 over traffic December 2006.
Check back here a year from now to see how I’ve done.
Happy New Year!