Sunday, July 29, 2007

Is Mark Cuban Right: Is the Internet Dead?

Mark Cuban recently spoke at the closing panel of the CTAM Summit where he declared "The Internet's for old people" and based on this and a number of other articles, his meaning was that the internet that we know today is past its prime and that what cable has built will change the way we receive and what we watch over the hi speed line. It reminds me a bit of the old adage, "the only thing constant is change", and what Cuban is suggesting is not so off base.

The services that Time Warner and Comcast, Verizon Fios and others each provide to their own unique customer, closed, walled gardens of content, applications, and information, will separate each cable operator from the other. How companies like Google and Tivo try to utilize the open cable architecture, OCAP, that the FCC has imposed is counter to the intranet structure which Cuban sees as prospering.

One story I recall from graduate school was when the rairoad companies were asked, what business they were in and they responded trains. But what their business really turned out to be was transportation and by not adapting to change, they lost dominance to the airline industry. In Jim Collin's book, "Good to Great", the businesses that excelled understood that in order to continue to be great, they had to adapt to the changing needs of the customer and to maintain their industry dominance, they had to keep thinking differently to excel.

Of course the internet will change, but it is not dead. Closed systems stifle growth. Its one reason the US cellular is so far behind the rest of the world. The competing cell formats don't talk to each other. So, the question shouldn't be, is the internet dead, the question should be, what's next. The internet is about sharing...sharing information, entertainment, and communication, that will not die, but it will continue to change to satisfy the consumer. In a very short time, we've experienced more social networking, quicker fulfillment of viewing through on-demand, easier navigation to what we seek, and more content than we can possible consume in one lifetime. The internet has put people together with similar interests, rediscovered relationships and lost friendships, opened barriers for more creativity, and opened our eyes to more possibilities.

The internet is not dead. An open architecture enable more applications to be written and even mashed together into something extraordinary. No, it is not dead and I'm excited by what's coming next.