Bell Telephone Pavilion, NY World’s Fair 1964-5
When I was a kid we went to the New York World’s Fair, and after waiting an interminable amount of time, we got into the Bell Telephone exhibit. It was one of the big ones.
There they had on exhibit the ‘picturephone’ that we would all have in our homes one day.
Just like The Jetsons.
Now, we just skype instead. With video. It’s pretty cool, it’s wifi and it’s free.
The wifi part no one in 1965 would have understood, but the free part would have made the execs from Bell Telephone throw up on the spot. They would not have believed that so powerful a service could possibly have been offered for free.
But there we are.
Today, b-roll.net carried a story about a WTSP-TV reporter in Florida who video skyped live to her station from the field. No truck. No satellite. No microwave. Just a laptop. Free.
Skype and VOIP in general spell the death of The Phone Company. Bell or ATT. It takes about 20 years for new technologies to percolate into general use, but the impact of those technologies is immutable and inevitable. When you can make phone calls for free anywhere in the world, and when you can do them with live video for free to anywhere in the world, it makes you wonder why you would need a landline phone in your home. And you don’t. And in the not too distant future, no one is going to have one.
Why would you pay the phone company or anyone else to do something you can now do on your own for free? You wouldn’t.
It’s pretty astonishing when you think about it.
For so many years, Bell Telephone or ATT were the paragon of American corporate power. Ma Bell. Now, it’s over.
The phone companies know this as well. They are moving as fast as they can to reinvent themselves before the endgame starts, even if it has started already. This is the thinking behind FiOS for Verizon. Use the phone lines to deliver online or TV channels or both. Phone calls? Over a wire? Not very likely.
How fast times change. How quickly yesterday’s core technology is tomorrow’s useless junk.
If you work in a TV station take a look at your remote trucks.
Millions of dollars of technology one day.
Worthless junk the next.