Tomorrow we celebrate July 4th, and a week later our long National Nightmare is over. On the 11th we deposit our 2G iPhones in the FriendFeed donation bins and officially hook ourselves up to the Enterprise iPhone. The ePhone will change how we work and play, and in the process free us from the tyranny of our jobs as consumers.
When the iPhone shipped last year, IT responded with a wave of dismissal to the shiny new platform. No keyboard, no push email, no secure deployability, and certainly no way to decommission the phone on exit from a company. In short, not a Blackberry. No way of ranking and rewarding employees by who gets one and who doesn’t. No hooks to Exchange to keep information bottled up in familiar corporate audit trails. And worst of all, no roadblock to time-wasting via an unviewable Web experience.
To be sure, the iPhone’d price point and lack of Office integration proved sufficient to allow IT to rule out support for corporate deployment. Within a few months, IMAP support made bidirectional syncing of email possible, but Google stepped up and took strategic advantage with Gmail integration and finessed the lack of native Mac calendar and contact support with a fast on-demand version of GCal and other Google Apps.
Then, just yesterday, Google released a slick version of Google Talk for the iPhone, prompting some overexcited predictions of the demise of SMS but certainly a muscular shot across the carriers’ bow with a demonstration of how little else is needed to provide robust enterprise communications over the Net. Those who remember the late great Track/IM combination of Twitter’s realtime platform immediately started licking their chops. So too did marketers, politicians, publishers, and Hollywood. The Social Wand is coming to a palm near you.
Sure, IT will still have a few weak complaints to slow this down, particularly at companies who make money by hoarding information and charging a premium for scarcity. AN IM application will take down the battery, requiring keeping the browser open only to that single application to maintain state and presence on the network. Apple will provide a pinging service to simulate keeping the device “alive” in September, but may be reluctant to make it too easy for Google to disrupt a principal rationale for buying the $99 MobileMe service for essentially the same push email capability.
But marrying a Twitterish social service with Gtalk’s auto-archiving and emerging social gadget platform means that users can begin to harvest swarming behavior wherever they are, regardless of private or work context. The ePhone becomes a unifying device and identity key to arbitrate transactions on the move, changing the business flow of sites from CraigsList to Amazon to your local supermarket. GPS means the ePhone is broadcasting your location to service providers who can offer you discounts and seats near friends as you move through space and time.
Markets long squandered by the music cartel will open as artists realize they can go direct to their audience, offering multicast access to backstage, rehearsal, recording studio outtakes, and archival performances on demand. 3G and WiFi will combine to create streaming products that mirror and eventually overtake radio, and shift drive-time revenue from broadcast to a more algorithmically intelligent personalized product based on behavior not just of the individual but the peer cloud they inhabit.
Inevitably, the things we do to make money will evolve to follow this new architecture. Services like FriendFeed that make it easier to identify and contour micro-communities reward those good at communicating, collaborating, and managing the flow of popular information. These skills are highly prized by technology companies today – and by the enterprise verticals that commit to platforms that support these fast-forming and moving conversations.
Disruption occurs when coalescing technologies commingle and create opportunities that were just not reachable enough previously. The ePhone delivers the iPhone vision, and the speed of its adoption will make those who fail to aggressively participate sorry they missed the meeting. These are the new truths we will shortly hold to be self-evident.