I can’t help but draw comparisons between the birth of the Internet (really meaning the Web and browsers) and where we are right now with voice. That’s partly because I just finished watching the excellent 6-part miniseries – “The Valley of the Boom” – on Nat Geo. The miniseries does a great job of capturing the ethos of the mid-to-late 90s.
I’m not sure the comparison is fair. The birth of the Web probably can’t be duplicated in my lifetime because it’s the first in a series of booms over the past two decades. I would equate this boom in voice to how mobile phones – and social media – took off a decade ago. Those wound up being huge game-changers – but you didn’t quite know it as it was happening. Not compared at least to what it felt like in the late ’90s. Perhaps the nutty stock market – until the April 2000 bust – made the Internet boom so unique. More likely, it was the sheer magnitude of change from a non-Internet world.
If I had to compare this voice boom to the Internet one, I would say we were in 1997. Many people are aware that voice exists – but most don’t realize the coming waves of change still to come. Most businesses don’t yet have a voice presence – but many are likely talking about possibly creating one. In 1997, people were talking about the “World Wide Web” – but many didn’t quite know what it was. And many companies either didn’t have a website at all – or their sites were plain Vanilla. Basically a brochure online.
The smart money is that voice evolves at a much faster pace than the Web did twenty-five years ago. There is some “FOMA” – and rightfully so, as falling behind in voice might have more serious consequences compared to falling behind in creating your first website in the ’90s…