prediction in this series goes back to 1998, but predicts an event around
2003. This prediction was first made by myself and my Scenario Planning
group at AT&T. We called this type of plot a "freight train",
implying two speeding objects rounding a curve into an inevitable collision.
Two such collisions are shown in the graph. The first occurred in 1993,
when improvements in voice compression (the pink curve) intersected with
improvements in the speed of modems found in most households (the blue
curve). At this point it was "technologically feasible" for
voice to be carried over a computer, rather than by dialing a phone number.
Soon afterwards, a number of companies were founded to commercialize this
potential. However, research on adoption rates indicated it would take
about a decade for Internet telephony to make inroads into the traditional
voice market. Juts because it can be done, doesn't guarantee it will be
done. At least not immediately.
improvements in video compression (the red curve) will eventually collide
with continued improvements in data access to the home (e.g. from dial-up
modems to DSL). So, around 2003 it will be possible to receive VHS quality
video on the computer at home. Again, adoption rate research indicates
a 5-10 year incubation period before watching movies on a computer will
be a common behavior, but when it does emerge, cable company revenue will
be in jeopardy. The reason is simple:
are defacto monopolies, with some annoying competition from over-the-air
broadcast and satellite TV. Yet, they only occasionally turn a profit.
A bit more competition, or a change in their economic base, and they are
in deep trouble. Once video can be delivered over a cable modem, the homeowner
no longer needs to pay the cable company for content, only for a connection.
Instead, they will receive TV shows direct from the network or the producer.
Of course, cable companies will fight back, by prohibiting long connection
times, repricing etc. but the cat is out of the bag. It will probable
take from 2003 to 2008 to establish this new technology, and another 5-8
years for the battle, so the cable war will be over around 2015.