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.