Cisco and RIM (BlackBerry) have been working on a joint development project that is both freeing us to roam as we please and also tying us all together in ever stronger ways. I spoke with Cisco marketing director Alex Hadden-Boyd who described the project and showed me some of the results which were unveiled last week at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.
I normally don’t write about BlackBerry and other gadgets, But this project got my attention because I’ve been thinking about how companies need to restructure themselves to compete in our global real-time economy and it brought some of my blurry thoughts into sharper focus. I see this project as another step along the way to the creation of what I believe is an emerging planetary cerebral cortex. Okay, it’s a leap to go from a new BlackBerry application to talking about a planetary cerebral cortex so let me sketch out how I got there. I start by observing that this application is certainly going to be popular and generate more mobile web traffic. Using Cisco's WebEx Connect and this new BlackBerry application, presenters can deliver visuals and do live annotations and markups of the visuals and send text messages to invite people to attend meetings. Attendees can respond to invitations with a single click to log on, they don’t pay to attend, and they can see the visuals and hear the audio just as if they were using their PCs or laptops. Cisco is also working with Nokia and Samsung to provide similar capabilities.
One Small Step on the Way to a Giant Leap
I see this application as a small step that leads to many more small steps that result in a "giant leap for mankind" (to paraphrase Apollo 11 astronaut Neil Armstrong). It’s one of many small steps driving the incredible growth of global mobile communications. Cisco’s Visual Networking Index Mobile Forecast for 2008-2013, says global mobile traffic will increase 66-fold between 2008 and 2013. It says mobile broadband applications will drive networking trends over the next five years with a powerful momentum deriving from a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 131 percent. Global mobile traffic will exceed two exabytes per month by 2013 (that’s 1 billion gigabytes) and regardless of our present economic troubles, it’s on track to reach one exabyte per month in half the time required by fixed data traffic.
It also says audio communications will be dwarfed by data and video communications; nearly 64 percent of the world's mobile traffic will be video by 2013. That’s a huge change in a very short time. What could all this mean? It’s as if our planet is using us to build out a nervous system that covers the planet and allows for all of us to plug into it.