People are adopting new communications technologies at an incredible pace. Much faster than even the vendors thought they would.
BT announced yesterday that it would sign-up it’s 10 millionth broadband customer this week. Taking it to 30 times the number they had in June 2002 and double the target they set five years ago. The UK is world leading now by some measures in terms of broadband penetration thanks in large part to good work from the regulator (there are now 200 broadband service providers) but the same trend is in evidence across the developed world.
In a similar vein Sky announced yesterday that it had passed 2m sales for Sky+ and was well ahead of plan for it’s target to have 25% of Sky subscribers owning a Sky+ box by 2010. (Sky+ is a TIVO-like service from Sky that is fully integrated into their satellite distribution system.)
The conclusion here is clear – we are in a period of very rapid change.
The good news is that both these services are quite primitive.
BT’s ADSL is a massive step up on narrowband dial up we had previously, but is still 50 to 1 contended across 2MB for most of us. 21CN could/should be another step up and is promising to come live with 24MB in Jan 2008 (although I’m not holding my breath). This sort of step up will enable lots of things, for example video over broadband is not really a consumer ready service at the moment. (Related interesting news yesterday was that cable’s share of new broadband sign ups has shrunk to 11%.)
Similarly with Sky+ – a great service that transformed my viewing habits (I have barely watched a live programme since) but it is still a million miles from an open video on demand system that allows free access to content (call it IPTV, PCTV or broadband TV) – so once again the revolution has barely started.
I have talked a lot about TV and video here, but that will be just one area of many.
All of which is great news for entrepreneurs and VCs alike.