Last week, I tweeted about the Cisco® Visual Networking Index (VNI) Global Mobile Data Traffic Forecast for 2010 to 2015. According to the report, worldwide mobile data traffic will increase 26-fold.
Two major global trends are driving these significant increases: a continued surge in mobile-ready devices such as tablets and smart phones, and widespread mobile video content consumption.
The Cisco study estimates that by 2015, there will be a mobile connected device for nearly every member of the world’s population.
So what does this mean? Well, for one thing, it’s a harbinger that it’s time to get our WAN architectures ready for the flood of video traffic. What happens when you don’t? Aside from the obvious—you deliver a frustrating and dissatisfying media experience—you also put other network applications at risk of going down.
If that’s not enough to spur you to take another look at your WAN, consider my top five predictions for what this tsunami of video traffic might lead to from a cultural trending perspective:
1. Shop ‘Til You Drop. The shopping experience is going to completely transform. No longer will the experience be limited to strolling through stores and browsing merchandise. Or, hoping for the best when buying online. Instead, we will see retailers find fresh ways to use video to help us experience goods even before we buy them. Think virtual reality models that can show us in a car, speeding along a country road or wearing clothing in a multitude of settings. The new shopping experience will have you front and center.
2. The Road Less Travelled. As Telepresence and 3-D TV become more mainstream, the travel industry is going to have to retool its business model to get us out of our home bases. We’re already quite comfortable socializing online and these additional forms of wherever-you-are entertainment will make it that much harder to get us out the door.
3. It’s Right There in Front of You. As wherever-you-are entertainment takes root, a movement of Personal Entertainment Networks will be launched. Their promise: the ability to see what you want, wherever you are – your own personal video stream, fed to you by special eyeglasses, contact lenses, or other optical implants, regardless of your location.
4. Dial V for Video. Video calling will become the standard. This will be the final sweep of inhibitions for using video as a primary calling mechanism.
5. It’s All in Your Head. As video becomes the preferred means of communications, scientists will discover innovative ways to integrate video into our lives, to the point where it’s no longer limited to standalone devices. What might this look like? Implants in your head or clothing, giving you the ability to record anything and everything you do or see and play it back to anyone.
Think my ideas are off base? Time will tell. But if so, at least I’ll be in good company. For a fun look at some famously failed predictions, check out this oldie but goodie from the Wall Street Journal. My favorite: “No one will need more than 637 kb of memory for a personal computer—640K ought to be enough for anybody,” Bill Gates, Microsoft, 1981.