Why this "Internet thing" is just starting
Yes, it's only been ten years.
And despite our memories of the crash of 2000, here are ten reasons why I believe that there's about to be a significant flourishing of Net companies and business successes, not to mention extremely cool things for the rest of us:*
1. Penetration. There are 50 times as many people using the Net as there were then. 50x is a multiple you don't see every day.
2. Bandwidth. It's easy to forget how horrible modem surfing was. The prevalence of high bandwidth connectivity means that surfing is far more natural, more frequent and that the experience is better as well.
3. Tools. You can launch most any online service with almost no custom programming. Changethis.com demonstrated to me how straightforward this has become. It also means that finding the world's greatest programmer is no longer a critical component for most services.
4. Servers. When google can offer a gig of storage for free, it's proof that server space is essentially free. You may recall that just
three ten years ago, a one three gig hard drive cost $3000.
5. Wifi. The next generation of wifi will be faster, but more important, have a vastly improved range. Which means, for example, that all of downtown Philadelphia will offer free wifi. With ubiquity will come cheap machines that dramatically increase the number of surfers, and put those surfers most everywhere.
6. Multimedia. The web is still stuck in ASCII world, but not for long. Add a few million video cameras, fifty million cell phone cameras, every song ever recorded, every TV show and movie ever made and the contents of most any scholarly book and it gets interesting fast. Sure, the lunkheads at the RIAA and MPAA will make up lies to try to stop it, but the cosmic jukebox meets the realtime surveillance camera is going to happen.
7. Grandmothers. It is no longer necessary to explain to the average American (of any generation) what this "Internet thing" is. Google has made the world safe for entrepreneurs. Don't underestimate how important this is.
8. Teenagers. The Yahoo generation is now getting driver's licenses!! These are kids who have grown up without encyclopedias or videocassettes or lps. These are kids who have completely and permanently integrated the Net into their lives and are about to go to work and to college.
9. VC. Fred Wilson (Link: A VC.) has more than a hundred million dollars to invest in great Net companies. So do a dozen or more other (less talented) venture capitalists. Given that it takes far less money today (see #10 and #3) than ever, this means the search for money is not the challenge.
10. The death of TV. (It wouldn't be a Seth Godin post if I didn't mention the death of TV, would it?) You know what killed the first crop of stupid $100 million Internet consumer service startups? Advertising. They all believed that they need to spend millions to build a brand. Today, we've got proof--every single (no exceptions!) Internet success is a success because of Unleashing the ideavirus. It's not TV ads. It's word of mouse.
[*Hyperbole alert: forgive me, please, if I've used too many absolutes. No, servers and bandwidth aren't free. No, TV isn't totally dead. It's all part of projecting a few steps ahead. But you already knew that...]