Tuesday, April 06, 2010

"The future used to be something people had time to think about. Now it shows up every time we go online."


...is a nice quote from the ITIF's recent report, The Internet Economy 25 Years After .com: transforming life and commerce, which was issued exactly 25 years after symbolics.com was registered as the first .com in the world (on 15th March 1985).

The report asserts that the Internet has become "a general purpose technology (GPT), one whose significance to society should be viewed as on par with the advent of inexpensive steel, the telephone, the internal combustion engine, or electricity", with its full potential still to be realised:
“General purpose technologies such as the Internet, which historically have appeared at a rate of once every half century, represent fundamentally new technology systems that change virtually everything, including what economies produce; how they produce it; how production is organized and managed; the location of productive activity; the skills required for productive activity; the infrastructure needed to enable and support it; and the laws and regulations needed to maintain, or even to allow, it. GPTs share a variety of similar characteristics. They typically start in relatively crude form for a single or very few purposes; they increase in sophistication as they diffuse throughout the economy; they engender extensive spillovers in the forms of externalities and technological complementarities; and their evolution and diffusion span decades (even centuries). Moreover, GPTs undergo rapid price declines and performance improvements; become pervasive and an integral part of most industries, products, and functions; and enable downstream innovations in products, processes, business models, and business organization. By any of these measures, the dot-com Internet ranks well against the most transformative technological breakthroughs (and subsequent commercializations) in human history.”
Persuasive stuff. The report's conclusion includes the claim (made in this presentation to this conference) that the Internet revolution is still less than 15% complete, in terms of number of users, total bandwidth, total amount of content, number of devices and number of applications. Another nice quote here too: "Gmail - the entry drug for cloud users".

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