Beyond Mobile Introduction: Trillion-Dollar Ideas
Robert Scoble and I have completed the first draft of our Introduction to our new book, Beyond Mobile: Life After Smartphones. We are looking for feedback on how we can make it better. This is a self-publishing project. We are seeking backing from corporate sponsors. If you would like to see our sponsor kit, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or at ShelIsrael on Facebook Messenger.
Trillion Dollar Ideas
As we write Magic Leap, a Florida-based augmented reality [AR] headset startup, has just announced it raised over $1.3 billion from investors that include Google and Alibaba.
The company is a startup that has never brought a product to market: It has not announced a launch schedule, nor has it delivered a working prototype. At this moment, there are no early adopters telling the rest of us what these goggles can or cannot do. There is only excitement, dreams and imagination. Insiders say the first product will not be ready for prime time until 2020.
However, there are mountains of coverage and gushing social media conversations about Magic Leap as well as Hololens, Samsung Gear and all sorts of other wearable computers coming to market this year and in the coming years. Some will initially cost nearly $1,000 and some are already available at Amazon for under $20.
What is the big deal about a new form of entertainment or game playing? If you are a business officer, why should you care about products that may or may not matter sometime in the unchartered future, products that very often will be no more than games or a new way to watch movies, sports or TV, where you are immersed in the middle of the action?
Beyond Mobile is an attempt to explain why AR is one of five technologies has everything to do with you, your business, relationships with shoppers and stakeholders. It is about to change your marketing advertising, support. It is about to dramatically expand data on people and their preferences.
These same technologies also matter if you are a parent, a spouse a friend or just someone who shares interests with people online. It matters if you would really like to do what the old phone company ad promised but never delivered: the ability to reach out and literally touch someone.
But we are getting ahead of ourselves. Let’s go back Magic Leap, which as we write in February 2016, is the most talked about new company on Earth.
Ted Schilowitz is 20th Century Fox’s futurist. His job is to understand how the near-term future will change the entertainment business. He spent a few days, under NDA, at Magic Leap and walked out thinking about how Magic Leap will change how movies are made.
He told Scoble it was Google’s “first trillion-dollar idea.”
“But,” as the guy on the late-night, TV infomercial used to promise: “Wait, there’s more… .” There’s more billion dollars investments in potential trillion dollar ideas: Facebook bought Oculus an intended Mercedes in Virtual reality [VR] for $2 billon in 2015, when the startup had neither product nor demo.
Microsoft a company that has ebbed away from the leading edge of personal technology may take solace in having billions in the bank and perhaps a billion customers for just its aging Office suite. However the aging Redmond giant has not had a solid hit with consumers since Xbox came out in 2001. We don’t know what they have poured into Hololens their AR entry but it is clear they are staking a whole lot that the platform will get them back into a trillion-dollar game.
A couple of days before this writing, we visited Meta, a company so secretive that we had to agree to not even reveal the company’s address until after it launched its Meta 2 AR headset.
Scoble is an untrammeled tech zealot. He has spent the last several years of his life traveling the world looking at the newest and greatest products and technologies. Even before we left Meta’s offices he posted on Facebook, “Whether I live one more day or 1,000, the rest of my life will never be the same.”
He predicted that the introduction of Meta2, its headset as being as significant an event as the launch of the Macintosh, one that would change the relationship of people and machines as it became the flagship of an entire new category of vital technology.
Shel Israel, a seasoned and accomplished journalist, was taught to be hard-nosed in his writing. As a cub reporter, his editor taught him that if his mother said she loved him, he would get a second source before writing it. Both the paper and the editor are long since gone now, but he still sticks to the advice.
Israel waited a few hours before he posted his experience from home that night. He wanted to be sure he had not sipped too much Kool-Aid. Then, he posted: “They showed us the most jaw-dropping, mind-boggling, world-changing technology I have ever seen.”
And thus a skeptic became a believer.
Meta isn’t backed by billions. Nor can it boast a billion customers and enjoys a few measly millions from investments that started at Kickstarter and now add up to about $23 million. Still, when it launches in a few weeks, it will have the most important piece to the trillion-dollar puzzle: a breathtaking product.
Will it beat the bigger, richer guys? Frankly we hope so. Something inside us loves little Davids when they have the guts to sling rocks at Goliaths.
Ultimately, however, we don’t care which of these companies prevail or how the playing field shifts over time. In such situations, fierce competition leads to rapid innovation and lower prices, which lead to more and more adoption.
In short, the situation would indicate that we users are likely to win. The result is that we will soon start spending less time on phones and more time on new technologies. We will start buy and going watching and playing in venues tat allow us to use these new technologies—and our loyalty and support of brands and organizations that do not adapt will taper off because they will be providing yesterday’s experiences in tomorrow’s world.
Let’s muddle through some nomenclature and get it over with. There are two forms of these new goggles: Virtual Reality [VR], which changes everything you experience, and Augmented Reality [AR], which adds a layer of virtual reality on top of what you are really seeing. Many observers predict that AR and VR will soon be two options on the same device.
In Beyond Mobile we found no choice but to use the terms AR, VR, AR/VR, Mixed Reality, which refers to both in a single device, and Enhanced Reality, which is a term we made up and like better.
The important thing is that they will replace much of what you and your customers do with mobile phones today even though the phone itself will not immediately go away. That will happen slowly for a while, as other devices shave a few minutes here and few there away from the time you typing on keyboards and clicking on apps.
The one day in the next three-to-five years, you will discover that you are using other devices more than your phones, just like a few years back when you discovered your phone was more important to you than you laptop.
This is not so easy for business strategists. Most businesses are still scurrying to adapt to what Forrester Research calls the Mobile Mind Shift.
Beyond Mobile is a call to shift faster—a lot faster.
Robots, Cars & Genies
AR/VR is the biggest thing happening in the next five-to-ten years, but it is not the only thing—not by a long shot. So many things that may seem freaky today will soon become essential everyday items. Almost all of it started in Sci-Fi which supposedly is Silicon Valley’s favorite category of literature.
When you think of AR/VR glasses, think of Star Trek’s Geordi La Forge, the blind guy whose visor let him sense was in front of him. But while we are there, think also think of a robot named Data, our personal favorite. He wanted to be human more than the Tin Man of Oz wanted a heart.
After years of struggling, such technologies as artificial intelligence [AI], neural networks, 3D cameras that see like people see and natural language recognition are rapidly developing robots that will serve and replace people in a great many areas.
They will prepare food, build bridges and serve as low-maintenance pets. Robotic cockroaches will crawl through crevices in wreckage and signal rescuers when they find survivors. The one that we found the most disturbing was the robot that writes books.
We will not just report on the many fast-evolving robotic developments, we will examine the many issues related to machines that behave and perhaps think like humans, who can do our jobs without requiring rest, food or compensation.
Not all robots, look and move like humans. There are also the autonomous cars you have been hearing so much about and software that we call digital genies, that you will be spending much time with in the near-term future. These too pose social, cultural and ethical issues as do their robot cousins.
Then there are robotic combinations that even we feel a little uneasy about. For example, who among us is ready to hop into the back seat of an Uber that will safely navigate city streets while being driven by absolutely no one? Who among us is ready to see a driverless delivery truck pull up to our curbsides and have a robot hop out to deliver a package to our door? Yet is it safer, cheaper and easier on the environment than the clouds of home delivery drones others have discussed?
Our fifth and final world-changer is also closely related to robots, except that it doesn’t autonomously move around. We call them digital genies, and we explain why we think they will change your home and personal life more than AR/VR, robots and autonomous cars.
They are the descendants of the intelligent agents of the 90s and modern personal digital assistants like Siri–but they are smarter, converse more humanly and are capable of performing far more tasks. They may fulfill some wishes before you command them and at least one important one already exists.
Amazon Echo does everything Siri does and a great deal more. Alexa, the female voice of Echo, has a deep and natural vocabulary and a better sense of humor than Siri, but she does so much more including automatically reordering household goods when they are low and opening your garage door and starting your car engine while you finish your morning coffee.
Like the other technologies, genies will reduce your time on phones. They are likely to work with AR headsets so that you see a holographic representation of the person you are calling sitting on the sofa across from you as you chat.
All of these devices will radically reduce out dependence upon the millions and millions of mobile apps being offered. Instead, we will have single apps, or genies or a messenger platform that will do everything you need done without having to touch a keyboard.
From Divide to Chasm
In Age of Context we talked about the convergence of five technologies: mobile, social media, data, the Internet of Things [IoT] and location technologies. In Lethal Generosity, Israel’s most recent book, he talked about the convergence of these technologies with Millennials, the first generation of digital natives.
In this book we tie these themes together and look forward at a world where mass adoption will be more affordable and easier than it is today, but where more people will respond with sincere discomfort and even hostility, refusing to participate in this new world and sometimes suppressing others from joining this movement.
In out view, we are heading out of a Digital Divide and into a Cultural Chasm, and we will tell you why.
Why Read This?
This is a book for business thinkers as well as general audiences. We write it so that our readers will understand the vital pieces of a very big picture and can use this knowledge to adjust course and develop better practices than their competitors will be using; so that they can develop thought leadership that the packs will have to follow.