Back in the days gone, remember when you would play Supermario, Tetris, Dangerous Dave, Ski-free and a bunch of other (awesome) games on your PC or Gameboy? Remember the number of times your mother would come and ask you to stop with the games and come down for lunch or dinner? And then life got a bit weird. We were introduced to the idea of mobile phones. They were huge rectangular things that would look normal in a lady gaga video. There was no lady gaga then.
None of us kids seemed to get the point of the inconvenience that device seemed to have when there were fixed line telephones freely available everywhere. If you needed to make a call, use the phone at home. If you needed to make a call while on the move, hop in to the nearest telephone booth. If there were no telephone booths around it wasn’t that hard either. Cause nearly all grocery stores had a telephone booth in them where you could make a call and then pay for the duration of the call. If you were in the middle of nowhere and wanted to make a telephone call, well then it was your fault for getting stuck in the middle of nowhere.
Coming back to the present, i look at my 5 year old nephew playing with my sister’s galaxy tab and i think to myself, we weren’t that smart when we were around that age. Or were we? Were we as intelligent but unable to make use of our intelligence because suitable technologies hadn’t been developed yet?
I guess the answer to that question would require a large bio-science laboratory, a time travel enabling gadget and an extremely large amount of funding. so lets leave that question and move on. So, moving on, the tablet is an amazing piece of work. So are the other smartphones of today. The skill set required to use it is confusingly simple. You’ve gotta have good hand to eye co-ordination, nimble fingers and a whole lot of common sense.
These smart devices are able to carry out so many different tasks that would otherwise require a multitude of devices and equipment to accomplish. For instance, you have your mobile telephone, music player, digital camera, email, contacts list, note pad, document reader, calculator, flash light, radio, digital TV, web browser, photo gallery and a number of other facilities all in a 4-5″ screened stand alone device that weighs less than 200 grams. And oh, did i forget to mention the games you can play on it too? Proper games! It’s so genius it’s borderline ridiculous.
Ask me why the walkman, the camera, the notepad, the radio and a billion other things got into the mobile phone. Go on, ask me. Ok, alright, i’ll tell you why. Once the whole mobile phone business started getting attention, the market started hotting up and the number of manufacturers jumped. Each manufacturer brought in a new feature or element into the whole mobile phone experience. The order of which features came in first i’m not familiar with but this should give you a little history lesson. Tough question, easy answer, right?
So, in a nutshell that’s how the mobile phone became as feature packed as it is now. And may be that’s why that 5 inch piece of plastic and glass gets all of our attention. Cause its got everything we want in it. Except for food of course.
So, in the spirit of looking ahead, all these features that are packed into the mobile phone leaving it bulging at the seams is obviously going to usher in some sort of change in the lives of people that use it. that change, for the sake of giving it a name, lets call it ‘digital lifestyles’.
Simply put, a digital lifestyle is one where nearly all (if not all) actions and interactions with other people and objects take place via a digital medium or digital device. But the digital lifestyle isn’t going to create itself. It needs a catalyst or a prompter or game changer that conveniently brings the concept into the mind of the individual.
Enter the telcommunications network operator (a.k.a telco). The telco has in its possessions immense computing power and the resources to digitize the world. By enabling telecommunications, it places itself at the heart of its respective community. putting it simply, ‘the telco has in its power the ability to digitize the world’.
Come to think of it, each and every, not nearly each and every, literally each and every interaction or transaction requires communication between two or more parties. Whether it be a dialogue between two or more people or for that matter even if you were talking to yourself you still had to lay out your thoughts to argue or agree with yourself and that requires a certain degree of communication. So again, whether it be a conversation or body language or a transaction between two parties, they all require communication. The extent of communication may vary between interactions but communications lies at the core of all social and commercial life.
Through the provision of networked digital services the telco is able to provide the individual the ability to communicate anything with anyone. People will be able to interact with personal devices such as mobile phones, laptops, refrigerators, televisions, washing machines to much larger machines such as automobiles, robots, buildings, roadways and the list goes on. The possibility that it will go on till and beyond the age where machines will be an entity on their own is one that is in view. A time in the history of man where machines are built with so much intelligence packed in them that they are literally able to obey complex commands and take operational control of other machines. It may sound far fetched and extracted from a Terminator movie, but it is not. I mean we’ve already seen what the driverless car by google can do. Supposedly the car can be programmed to drop you off at work and then go do your daily chores such as dropping and picking off the kids, delivering the laundery and other transport related tasks. Combine that with an advanced version of ASIMO, use your imagination and you see where i’m heading here right? ‘Digital Lifestyles’, get it?
So, the big question. Where does the telco fit in all this? Well, the answer to that requires me to paint you a picture first. Remember the last time we did a head count on the number of people in the world? we came up with a figure of there-about 7 billion individuals right? Adding to that, Mckinsey & Co (disruptive technologies, 2013) say that currently there is near-about 9 billion devices connected to the internet and that number is set to explode from 50 billion to 1 trillion devices in the coming years. Of these 9 billion devices, smartphones and tablets only amount to 1.1 billion. So do the math. 7 billion individuals and 50 billion communicable devices. Communications is going to be the order of the day. It’s going to be at the center of every business, social and individual life. Where does the telco fit in all of this you ask? The telecommunications sector is going to have a ball and dance about it.