A few weeks ago, from my laptop, I watched Octavia Nasr on CNN.com Live reporting about Iranian citizen journalism, a story she covered from Atlanta via her BlackBerry. I continued to witness the developing story by following Tweeter Change_for_Iran, and citizen photojournalist Tehranreporter at the news community Demotix.com.
If there was ever a doubt that mobile multimedia is the 21st century equivalent of Gutenberg's printing press, that doubt has been banished by the events unfolding in Iran. Just as the assassination of John F. Kennedy marked the end of the era of radio news and the beginning of TV news, one could say that the passing of TV news anchor Walter Cronkite and the events surrounding the Iranian election mark the beginning of the next era in news – mobile multimedia.
As technology opens up multiple avenues of how news is captured and disseminated, distinctions blur between content and its conduits. And this breakdown in boundaries presents a challenge to service providers. In the past, operators could differentiate based on unique engineering and experience with specific kinds of content – high quality television or reliable mobile phone calls. Now, success increasingly depends on enabling subscribers to connect freely with any content, anywhere and on any device.
And make no mistake; it's going to be mobile. As the recent Cisco Visual Networking Index reported, global mobile data traffic will double every year through 2013, increasing 66 times between 2008 and 2013.
Triple- and quadruple-play service offerings are one response to the changing business landscape. And while today's multi-service offerings are a first attempt at breaking down the content silos, there's no question that tomorrow's winners will be operators who are today thinking about meeting customers' demands for ubiquitous access.
When big events happened in the past, we would come together to face them gathered around our TVs. The new international meeting place is the Internet. What new business models can you envision as we move into the mobile multimedia news era and 4G rolls out in the coming months and years?
Lisa, you hit the nail on the head on several key topics.
Experience: The mobile experience will become richer and enables unprecedented levels of user generated content and collaboration. 3G Networks are already driving billions of video downloads every day. 4G will ratchet it up to the next level in terms of both quality and quantity. Soon we will have mobile compute devices and SmartPhones delivering HD quality video recording. We all know that soon after the launch of the iPhone 3GS, the number of video uploads on YouTube increased by 400%.
Scale: Billions of people and devices will be part of the mobile network of networks. Machine to machine communication is expected to challenge the scalability of the mobile networks and promote new innovative applications. For example, farmers in the California Central Valley are already using soil sensors with mobile communication to decide on watering schedule and amount. Border patrol sensors are capable of streaming high definition video upon sensing an intrusion.
Business: Combine the scale and integrated experience, new business models will be developed. Value chains, as we know, will be disrupted and new ones will blossom. In many instances, new levels of productivity will also be achieved.
And finally, the mobile revolution transcends any controls governments or dictatorships can enforce, as the recent events in Iran illustrated. There is no stopping.