The times they are a-changin

Climbed into the Wayback Machine last week and attended the Bob Dylan concert at the Air Canada Centre. At the end of a performance that fairly screamed “I don’t give a damn”, the audience did what dutiful audiences the world over do – they clapped and hollered and flicked their Bics in an effort to lure their hero back on stage for an encore. They did something else too. They held up strange little bluish lights – hundreds upon hundreds of them, shining eerily in the darkened arena. At first I couldn’t figure out what they were. Then it dawned on me – they were cell phones. People everywhere were holding up their cell phones.

A few weeks earlier, Peter Chernin, COO of News Corp, one of the world’s largest media conglomerates, stood before a different sort of audience, attendees of the CTIA Wireless IT and Entertainment Conference in Los Angeles. He said to them, “Mobile could be the greatest media vehicle ever created – greater than even television.” And he added, “…we are still only sitting on the precipice of a consumer opportunity no one has ever seen before.”

It’s unclear whether or not his speech was received with a sea of lofted cell phones.

As we’ve come to learn, Dylan’s oft-quoted anthem “The times they are a-changin’” never loses its relevance. In fact it may be truer now than it’s ever been.

Over the past few years, the business world has been obsessed with the Internet as ‘The New Frontier”. And to a large extent, that obsession has been justified. The fate of many a company has been tied to the Web, and that will continue to be the case for many years to come

But we should keep in mind that new frontiers have a way of getting old fast. And right now, mobile is starting to make the Internet’s “New Frontier” look a little bit more like “The Old West”.

Keep in mind that the mobile space is a much different animal than the Internet. You can’t simply port over your Web stuff and expect it to do the trick. So a word to the wise – if you aren’t looking at mobile seriously, maybe it’s time you did. Otherwise, all the choice territory on this New Frontier may be staked out long before you get there.

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