Like a blockbuster movie desperately grasping at a sequel, the “naughties” are dropping late hints about their imminently succeeding decade.
The past few weeks especially have spawned a series of issues that set the tone for a new era that will begin with the dawn of 2010.
The most important one, from a Canadian perspective, is Globalive.
This is an Egyptian majority-owned mobile carrier that will be passing Wind in the Canadian marketplace.
No seriously. Wind is the name of their service. I guess cuttingthecheese.com was taken.
Wind is unlikely to represent much difference in and of itself.
What’s actually remarkable is that, to enable Wind’s Canadian launch, our Conservative federal government routed a CRTC decision that prevented Globalive access to the marketplace based on foreign ownership rules.
In doing so, Harper’s Tories established a dangerous precedent that effectively neuters the CRTC.
So that means that over the next decade we’ll see a general erosion in the CRTC’s relevance and effectiveness in protecting Canadian industry and culture.
How does this bode for the incumbents?
While Bell, Rogers, and Telus will moan and groan about it for a while in the interests of faux-patriotism.
But Globalive’s anti-Canada wedgie is all the bullying the big three needed for an excuse to weep their way to foreign ownership.
So in the short run, it’ll mean that Canadians may save a few bucks in mobile phone charges (especially if you let Wind syphon your loonies off to north Africa).
But looking forward, the Tories just sold off a critical Canadian industry for a few paltry political points and that will prove to be an incredibly expensive mistake for Canadians to bear.
Better that Industry Minister Tony Clement had talked to Google about Nexus One.
Sci Fi fans might think I’m suggesting the introduction of replicants into the population.
But, no, it’s just a name Google ripped off from the legendary Blade Runner film for its upcoming self-branded mobile phone.
To be released in early 2010, like Wind, the Google Nexus One mobile device is unlikely to itself be remarkable. In fact, it’s largely a further ripoff of Apple’s iPhone.
What will raise eyebrows, however, is the fact that Google will release the Nexus One without any ties to a mobile carrier.
In other words, you’ll be able to buy the Nexus One unlocked and sans contract. So you’ll be able to move it between mobile carriers’ networks at will for whatever reason pleases you.
If Apple rocked the boat when they forced American carrier AT&T to accept unprecedented concessions just to gain iPhone exclusivity, then Google is about the turn the boat right over.
I mean, really, imagine a world without contracts. The carriers might actually start to act like they want your business all the time, instead of just every 24 or 36 months.
Yeah, with just a bit of creativity, Mr. Clement might have grasped this as a more effective road to competition than hawking the industry to the Egyptians.
But if the Nexus One is a flip of the bird at mobile carriers around the world, it’s also a battle cry aimed squarely at Microsoft.
Take the device’s launch video: it’s a swirling vortex of red, yellow, green, and blue, sort of like what you’d see if you flushed the Windows logo down the toilet.
Google is making it clear that the future is in the mobile cloud, and that Microsoft is flying blind there.
Google is lining itself up to inherit the evolution of the industry as it moves from the desktop to the palm of your hand. The company plans to replace Microsoft.
But therein lies Google’s weakness: it’s too much like Microsoft, a company of engineers.
For Google and Microsoft, it’s technology first, people second. So while their products are functionally advanced, they’re cumbersome and difficult to use.
And that will slow adoption.
Which leaves the market open to Apple. A recent report figures that Apple already has a 2 to 3 year lead over everybody else in the mobile industry with the iPhone.
And they’re ramping up some major advancements in the mobile cloud space in the next couple of years.
For one, they recently purchased a music streaming service called Lala right out from under the nose of Google.
This probably means you’ll soon be able to move your iTunes library off your desktop and into the cloud for full anytime, anywhere access.
But to date, in terms of actual online services, Apple has lagged badly and made several critical mistakes. The future of the industry may be Apple’s to lose, but I wouldn’t necessarily bet against that happening.
The company is going to have to start demonstrating that they get the cloud as a comprehensive service environment if they want to counter Google’s growing strength.
And, of course, as the appeal and utility of the cloud grows, privacy is a primary concern.
Google’s CEO, Eric Schmidt, has made it clear that the US Patriot Act casts a very long shadow that even his company can’t escape.
And, right now, if you’re in the cloud (yes, Gmail counts), no matter what country you live in, you’re data is probably governed by that Act.
As a result, I estimate a major privacy crisis within the next two years that forces businesses and governments out of their complacency. It will be an event that forces an international issue.
Then mass privacy paranoia will erupt.
As a result a cottage industry of privacy-oriented cloud-nodes will emerge and the geographical where of data storage will matter more than the brand.
Well that’s a trailer, if you will, advertising one aspect of the upcoming decade. Unfortunately, though, you won’t be able to avoid buying a ticket for this show, as you perhaps wish you had for the latest episode in the Twilight saga.
Originally published in the Yukon News on Friday, December 18, 2009.