WhatsApp valued at $ 19 billion for 450 million users. In Asia, another text messaging service, LINE has another 300 million users and is expected to IPO in Japan this year. Facebook at $ 175 billion for 1.2 billion users. Twitter at $ 30 billion for 650 million users. Netlfix with original programming. YouTube as major channel. You can go and on.
As we celebrate on March 10 the 138th anniversary of Alexander Bell’s first ever phone call, it is pretty clear the world of communications and content has changed massively. Telecom and cable executives worldwide should be watching with intense jealousy at these valuations and even more intense concern at the (mostly) young and non-paying demographic of these new services.
They have seen it coming, and yet they still compete on speeds and feeds and continue to annoy customers with long-term contracts and sneaky charges. And keep acquiring each other with the hope they can continue to squeeze more out of their old models.
In my 2009 book, The New Polymath Martin Geddes, an ex BT exec had sent out an SOS to telcos with words like
“ The Internet is still so young. I am more worried about the next generation of Googles and Skypes, which will be far more terrifying. ”
Five years later he sounds so prophetic …and yet the telcos have not evolved much – at least in consumer markets