The credit crunch is an interesting beast. It has many unexpected consequences – for example, we’re all becoming more isolationist and protectionist. And xenophobic. Not having jobs means that we don’t have the capacity to be nice to foreign workers. It’s all a little Lord of the Flies if you ask me. And, as I discovered while waiting for my Chinese takeaway at the fabulous PakFook Gardens in Youghal, people text just a little less. There were four people ahead of me, all waiting for their delicious noodles or aromatic whatsits, and none of them had a mobile phone out. I noticed, because the minute my order had been taken, I realised that I had left my phone in the car. And had to engage with my surroundings sans-technologie, as the French might say. I had to ask, and so I picked on the fellow queuer who looked least likely to punch me for asking a patently stupid question, and asked whether she had a mobile phone, and if so, why she wasn’t playing with it while waiting. ‘I thought everyone did that,’ I laughed, trying to pretend that I wasn’t some kind of weirdo. My pretence having failed, the young lady indulged my evident lunacy and explained that ‘everything costs money!’ Including, as it happened, the young lady’s aromatic whatsits, for which Mr’ Fook’s delegate was demanding payment, which she made, and left.
There’s general concern about for much of the services at the edge of core communication for service providers. Even idle text messaging in a queue for takeaway food is now under threat. These strange, remote conversations (viz: ‘Guess where I am?’ ‘Dunno, Australia…wah wah wah’ ‘No, guess again!’…) that incur a few small cents for each inane iteration may seem utterly banal, but they provide something of a communal link, an active engagement with the social group that has replaced or supplemented some older engagements, and re-defined social connectivity. Pulling that apart will be difficult, and is unlikely to happen soon, but the credit crunch will have its pound of flesh.
At the macro level, there’s some big European news on network sharing (free sub required), where two of the very large fishes in our fast shrinking pond have announced a pan-European network sharing agreement. Yet further evidence of the abdication of the network as a differentiator. Shall we see network management spinoffs next? I think we will. If this joint venture between Vodafone and Telefonica is a success, I expect we will see some substantial changes in the next twelve to eighteen months, and, ultimately, a separation of network and service management. How cool is that!
Question then becomes, whose cloud is the sniffier, the network or the service? Are clouds about optimising the distribution of physical capacity, or intellectual property? We shall see!