What this means for us consumers is that as mobile/tablet penetration goes past the PC/laptop hegemony (happening as you read this), the wireless service providers (ATT, Verizon) will be at a vantage point to squeeze our wallets for bits & bytes.
Will the cable guys ever catch up? The situation is not as dire yet. Consider enterprise connectivity and the form factor of working on spreadsheets and presentations, which would require highly reliable PCs/laptops as well as internet connection. So I can see a shift in the revenue stream but no absence as such.
Eventually though another Apple might come along and disrupt the enterprise hardware space (enterprise s/w is already a huge disruptive market, think cloud). When that happens, the wireless folks will be smirking as they have the tower infra to leverage with. It is highly prohibitive to build out such infra and the cable firms with already declining revenues from TV and voice will shy away.
I will not be surprised if the wireless firms change the pricing structure of data services. Currently they sell by the # of bits you use monthly and it is coupled with your voice service. Don’t be surprised if you see a separate Chinese menu of data service options in the near future.
Now, I want to go back to Google.
Peter Thiel is famous for chiding Google’s conservatism about spending on R&D. Google as we all know has a search monopoly which drives its overall business. With about $50 billion sitting on its account and not accruing any interest the firm decided to have some fun. I urge you to check out some of the following projects they are dabbling in
- Project Glass
- Driverless cars
- Google Fiber
- Renewable Energy
- Nexus series
- Hiring superstars (Kurzweil & Majumdar)
If you notice I have skipped many other s/w projects which are equally cool and creative. But who are we kidding? These guys are good at the s/w stuff. The projects mentioned here have a hard-tech component in them and touch upon various aspects of human-tech interaction.
Google to me is the only firm in the quartet (Amazon, Apple, & Facebook) that is encroaching on common turf, without giving up its core competence. It is still pursuing social networks, moving into h/w with the acquisition of Moto mobility, and competing on cloud services. It has all the ammunition to get into the e-commerce business as well.
That said these firms have stayed true to their core competence for all their experimenting. It’s very clear who dominates search versus h/w design versus social networks versus online retail. They form an internet supply chain to me. Pick up your Apple iPad, do a Google search for a product, buy the one you like from Amazon, share the news with you F&F on Facebook. Oh, lest I forget, repeat.