Companies won't dominate the mobile world. No, not even Apple

Mobile entertainment will not be dominated by companies. No, not even Apple.

Reading Jeff Jarvis on the iPod and the future of mobile communications, I remembered a piece I wrote in Paris in 1999 where I was grappling with some of the same questions. I googled back to it to see what I got right, and what I missed.

I had the idea of the phone morphing into a computer that could tune in Internet radio and download "entire CDs" in a matter of seconds. I had the timing wrong. But my biggest miss was the way I viewed the world. Companies were in charge. I was not clued into the grassroots essence of the Web, the worlds of P2P, open source, blogs. So I was looking to Ericsson and Nokia to provide the magic, with Microsoft and Sony racing to catch up. I figured one of them would team up with Apple for branding and design smarts. It was a world run by companies.

That's not the world we're living in now. Smart companies are providing tools to let users create much of the magic, and I think those innovations, increasingly, will make their way into the world of hardware and objects. In a few years we'll be surrounded by a galaxy of converged mobile gadgets of all stripes, doing jobs and providing pleasures that we haven't even considered yet. And we'll look back on this time as a strange anomoly, a brief moment in history when one company, Apple, seemed to represent the promise and the power of mobile entertainment.

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