Jumping ahead to today, consider for a moment that the first smartphone to run on 4G (the successor to 3G mobile broad and capable of significantly faster mobile broadband speeds) – the Sprint HTC EVO – hit the U.S. only this past June. Sprint’s 4G network, however, only covers about 40 million people. Similarly, wireless broadband ISP Clearwire reported in May that its network – which is also used to offer service to Sprint, Verizon, and Time Warner cable subscribers – only reaches 41 million people. At the same time, mobile broadband subscriptions are expected to surpass 1 billion worldwide by 2013.
Facebook has a far larger user base and more diverse demographics than any social network before it, and is becoming a de facto login service around the web. YouTube continues to maintain an enormous lead in online video viewership and through aggressive deal-making, looks likely to fend off competition from upstarts with deeper pro-content libraries. Twitter has also become a formidable force with a 300,000+ app ecosystem and a distribution platform for virtually every media company large and small.
The Internet has already enabled anyone to be a publisher. But now, with Internet-connected television, anyone is going to be able to gain access to the living room. Blip.tv, a company that bet on this trend early, recently reported that its shows – which air solely online and on connected devices – are being viewed nearly 100 million times per month — or, put another way, 10% as much as what’s viewed on ABC, NBC, and FOX combined.
And while this trend was previously relegated to early adopters and startup set-top box makers like Boxee and Roku, recent months have seen the likes of Google jump on board with Google TV and Apple revamp its Apple TV offering. At the same time, so-called “second screen” providers are building a social experience – leveraging Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube – on mobiles and tablets around video content. The result of this trend is going to be the type of broad consumer choice in the realm of video and television that we currently know on the web with printed news.
Radio is likely to see a similar shift. Late last year, we saw the LTE Connected Car concept unveiled – an idea that will become increasingly close to reality with expanded 4G coverage. Already, we’ve seen Ford make a play in this arena, letting you stream music from Pandora over your car stereo. While the transformation in radio might not come as soon as that in TV, it’s equally inevitable, and there are hundreds of content providers – from Pandora to Last.fm to BlogTalkRadio – ready to unseat the status quo. The connected devices theme extends beyond the media though — everything from scales that track your weight and body fat to alarm clocks that sync with your calendar — is quickly becoming the reality. We’re also starting to see behavioral shifts take place as a result of this trend, as evident with the growing acceptance of location sharing apps and even apps that share your credit card purchases.