WSJ (Tim Hanrahan and Jason Fry) write on the learnings from the past year:
1. Internet Time Remains a Potential Savior/Killer: In 2003, the arena where this was proven again and again was digital music.
2. You Never Have Enough Storage: The iPod, the successor to the Walkman of a generation ago, has the same hard-disk capacity of a fair-sized office building during the mid-1980s.
2a. You Never Have Enough Bandwidth: While more bandwidth can deliver services that are only now being cooked up in the lab, more bandwidth can also make the humdrum Web a better and more-reliable service, with fewer “Internet congestion” messages and mysterious slowdowns.
3. The Problem With the Internet Is People: The dark side of progress in 2003 was watching the Internet seem to turn into a seething soup of viruses and spam.
4. Mobile Gets a Little More Mobile: Wireless number portability was the one big victory for consumers this year.
5. Convenience Is the Killer App: Take three of 2003’s successful “digitals” — digital video recorders, digital music and digital pictures — as proof. All three have been hits because they get rid of an annoying, inefficient process.
A follow-up article summarises reader responses:
Curtis L. Russell writes: The PC is not the center of computing for a lot of the younger set. Between Web-enabled game boxes and PDAs that connect to the Internet as well, in my opinion the generation currently in their 20s will be the generation that rationalizes the use of PCs. Power users will continue to use PCs, but increasing numbers of people will downsize to their increasingly powerful and flexible PDAs. Salespeople will stay next to their customers and leave the floor only to sync to the system. Doctors will walk with their computing power in their pocket. Point and click will be the province more and more of the stylus, not the mouse. The year 2003 may be recorded as the high-water mark of the use of PCs.
Alan Colmenares writes: Comparable to the methodical migration of workers from rural to urban areas during the start of the Industrial Revolution, some processes (e.g., education, sales referrals, information search, etc.) are becoming digitized and benefiting from the low-cost, efficient Internet channel. There are some conclusions that we can draw about what the future will look like:
1) In the home and in business, the justification for broadband internet connection will only increase.
2) Just as production was concentrated in urban areas during the Industrial Revolution, the current trend is for concentration around the best minds and processes in each particular area of endeavor. The Internet allows this to happen irrespective of a person’s particular geographic location.
3) Internet security safeguards will continue to become more urgent.
4) Computing and communications power becomes ever more pervasive and integrated beyond the general purpose computer (e.g., robots, consumer electronics, etc.).
5) Industries will remain highly vertical on the production side (e.g., managing hotel rooms, steel making, etc.), but they will become highly horizontal closer to the customer (e.g., selling hotel rooms, travel, music, dating services, banking — all at once). Thus, the digital customer connection will push distribution companies into other product areas (e.g., Dell migrating from PCs to consumer electronics to music distribution, etc.).