The video above is less than a minute long. Please take a moment to watch it.
Did you see it? Sure there is much to the revolution unfolding in Egypt, but that’s not the revolution I’m highlighting here.
In the video you’ll notice the events of the day are not getting captured by film crews and news reporters. They’re being documented by people with their mobile phones. Take another look at the video and count the number of illuminated mobile phone screens you see being raised overhead to capture pictures and video as the scenes in the streets unfolds.
I’m as guilty as anyone else for being overly enthused with investment opportunities as the world goes increasingly more mobile. But, in the case above, we’re not talking about some Stanford dropouts who’ve developed a hot new iPhone app. We’re seeing something much more fundamental. Not just a shift from the PC to handsets, but a shift from disconnected and isolated members of developing nations to connected global citizens. Many of whom skipped the PC altogether.
I had a conversation last week, that’s still rattling around in my head, which was both troubling and inspiring. In it my friend pointed out that people in the developing world have mobile phones before they have clean water or toilets. Indeed, India has over 500 million mobile subscribers while less than 400 million Indians have access to toilets.
By their nature, these phones were born social. They were built from the ground up to connect us. First with voice, then with text. Now, they’re packed capabilities like photos, videos and a wave of native and web applications. We’re just beginning to catch a glimpse of what a powerful and disruptive force they can be. Not just to incubent handset manufactures and telcos but to social movements and government regimes.
I’ve made clear my belief that we’re in the midst of a massive global reinvention. Not just a shift from analog to digital, but a shift from centralized control to distributed systems. From isolated single user experiences to a global social fabric. These mobile devices are the of Gutenberg presses of our generation. This is not a bubble, this is a revolution.