Failing to invest in the future
Today, two pertinent matters highlight how greed and lack of holistic creative thinking can lead to disaster. One slightly more important than the other:
1. Mobile broadband
Recently, some airtime providers in the US and UK have announced the end of unlimited data plans. This just as more advanced devices such as iPhone 4 arrive on the market offering even greater performance and display resolution. Such short termist corporate maleficence will be catastrophic for all parties. In a few months, users are going to receive bills way in excess of their calling plans. In view of the fragile state of the economy, some will default, causing inconvenience, stress and expense, and for those whose accounts are barred, loss of income to the air time providers. Foot shooting?
The air time providers have had 10 to 15 years to invest in a global ultra fast wireless broadband network capable of supporting mobile multimedia. Instead, they have focused on selling consumers what looks like value for money deals on services that cost them almost nothing, such as unlimited text messaging packages.
A text message uses up a tiny proportion of the bandwidth, and to be frank, like Twitter, is one of those ‘inventions’ that didn’t actually need to be invented. Mobile email is (as covered elsewhere on this blog) far more reliable and effective a medium – something more sensible Blackberry users have known for a while. As with the next defendant on this list, greed has meant that the networks have invested in marketing over infrastructure – and now we are all going to have to pay for it – or not for those who are forewarned and search for fairer calling plans.
Update: I omitted to mention the irony of the visionary AT&T advertisements from the optimistic days of the Internet in the 1990s featuring a wide screen video phone a few years into the future. Well, here we are in the future, where Apple, who (no doubt to their frustration) rely upon AT&T in the US are limiting the otherwise brilliant FaceTime feature of iPhone 4 to WiFi because the cellphone networks cannot cope.
Just as an underwater robot damages the cap on the leak, a director of BP commented that the Gulf of Mexico spill has been cursed. Incorrect. It was an accident waiting to happen – and will probably happen again. The fault does not lie with BP, it lies with the whole industry, who like the mobile wireless providers, has failed to invest on a Manhattan Project scale in all new technologies and methods that offer us an effective practical way of generating clean sustainable energy.
As a result of this greed and lack of vision, the whole population is going to have to go through 10 to 20 years of hell as things begin to fall apart. All while grand visionaries and industrialists of the future work away in the background out of the limelight, for fear that exposure to their good work will lead to strategic buyouts or special interest sponsored humiliation by corporate owned media. Such behaviour has gone on for decades and is why there has been so little progress in major technologies over the last 50 to 60 years. Yes, our gadgets may be smaller and our cars sexier, but the infrastructure that undermines our way of life is stuck in the past.
Fight back club: Only spend your money on products and services run by honorable visionary management who care more about their customers than their stockholders.