Further to The Future of Digital according to Facebook, Microsoft, ITV and Wired, what did I take away from the debate? What would I have said if I had been on the panel?

071209: Pete Cashmore’s 10 digital trends for 2010

Well, one of the difficulties about a debate such as this is the definition of “digital” both now and in the future. TV is going digital. I watch TV series’ on my iPhone. Am I watching TV or doing ‘digital’? Who claims those eyeballs? Some radio is digital, Most telephony is digital, books are now “Kindled”, advertising hoardings are digital. Inevitably, you end up talking about the future of communications technology, marketing, user requirements rather than digital.

Stephen Haines at Facebook is right about identity, connection and engagement but it’s hardly new thinking.

Mike Fischer (Microsoft) is spot on when it comes to that Mascara moment and the need to buy audiences not media space. But is advertising itself on the way out?

David Pemsel (ITV) is surely right about a large group enjoying the shared and simultaneous experience of live entertainment. But will television as we know it still be around in 10 years? Surely the smart phone has nabbed convergence and made it mobile. Why would I want an Internet connected box in my lounge when I can watch what I want on my iphone on the train?

David Rowan (Wired) did a good job of making data storage interesting by explaining the applications made possible by the low cost. But giving away some of my privacy for reward feels a bit like the Victorian slum habit of selling hair.

So what would I have predicted?

  1. Wait-lessness
  2. Hyper-Relevance
  3. GeoMarketing


NTT Japan has successfully tested a fibre optic cable at 14 trillion bits per second. That’s the equivalent of 2,660 music CDs per second. Historically, the average Internet connection speed doubles every 18 months. Mobile is following suit. Ubiquitous, buffer-less, wait-less connectivity is coming. It will be like Oxygen. Essential, effective but invisible and everywhere.

Faster and wider connections foster the arrival of innovative services. YouTube and Skype would not have been possible even 5 years ago. In another 5, this ubiquitous wait-less realtime connectivity will have fostered new services and applications which we can only guess at now. Porn will probably lead the way yet again.


The mascara moment will come. Google Adwords Pay Per Click started the process of revolutionizing advertising with its targeting and measurability. Ad hoardings at football matches will be green-screen. What we see on each of our screens will be adverts dropped in based on our profiles and location. No longer one size fits all.

Geo and RFIDs will tell advertisers where we are to an accuracy of 5 metres if we let them. The above wait-less connectivity will facilitate the presentation of specific marketing messages relevant to us. More devices will be connected. They will ‘know’ who and where we are and they will be used to target the messages delivered over via wireless data networks (WiDa).

As consumers we will welcome this. It will kill junk mail. Our marketing economies can no longer afford the wastage. Emerging markets will force ever greater price competition. Magazines will use connected ePaper so that the adverts we see are relevant to us.

Untargeted advertising won’t have a place in this new environment.


Travel, hot desking, home-working, my office at Starbucks, anywhere-working, we are more mobile and we need to be able to work anywhere and get to our data quickly and easily wherever we are. We monitor email on holiday. We check email before turning out the bedside lamp.

The iPhone and smart phones have shown that convergence is possible. I can sit on the train and stream Last.FM. I can buy and watch TV series on the move and I can check my email anywhere. Convergence is here and the surprise is that it is mobile. This will shape the future of digital communication.

Please comment/challenge/deride


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