The Next Big Thing

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On the flight home tonight, I was reading an article about advanced technologies that Intel was investing in. It talked about this new version of Wi-Fi expected to go into production within the next 2 years that has a range of 30 miles called Wi-Fi Max. Geez, 30 miles! If you put up enough towers that becomes a pretty awesome network. Its much faster than what you can do today over other broadband methods like DSL and cable. So the idea is that wireless Internet access would just be everywhere, like cell phone service is today.

What if the nation’s cell phone network starts going away and this replaces it? This started me wondering if we will start seeing cell phones that are just IP phones. That would be pretty cool. This whole GSM/GPRS thing where you pay by the byte is insane long term. Nobody wants to pay by the byte. But if you had this wireless IP network, you could do some really cool things. Plus, today’s networks are only at modem speeds. What can you do if you had megabit speeds to a handheld device? I can only imagine — live TV, live video conferencing, anything. Seems like there are plenty of killer apps in this new space but what are they?

I think we are entering a unique period in the technological spiral where the hardware abilities are much much greater than what the software can do. We will have terrabyte disks, super fast CPUs, megabit everywhere, etc. We need applications to take advantage of all of that.

One reason I am excited to be joining Cisco is that I have been working on a great application that will benefit from all of those advances. Until every person can have a very rich media conference experience with anyone that includes voice, data, video and more, the dream is not reality. This is the killer app in my opinion.