Here’s your one-sentence media future forecast: Everything will be online, and online will be hand-held.
Of course, internecine battles between AT&T and Apple, embarrassingly backward US wireless infrastructure and the overall anti-competitive climate of the US mobile market are the first things people often mention when media types get excited about the wireless future. Look at Korea or Japan if you want to see the media distribution platforms of the future. “All fine and well,” say the non-media types, “But if the pipes don’t work, why supply the pipeline?”
Because the old rules are irrelevant. We’ve made this comparison before, but look at what happened to legacy airlines once Southwest toppled the barriers to entry? All it takes is for one viable game changer to get on the field, and everything gets shaken up. Carriers prevented the paradigm shift as long as possible, but sooner or later an iPhone was going to arrive on the scene and pull the rug out on a system that was not responsive to market forces. Once that process starts, it is impossible to contain.
All it takes is one breach for the fortress to come down, and when it does, things that seemed inconceivable previously become ordinary pretty quickly. After generations of media production and consumption based on centralized, capital-intensive processes, the idea that a small team with cameras, laptops and expertise can produce and distribute media content more effectively than massive corporations is still anathema to most people — but that day is at hand, and the future is looking good.