It's so wonderful to hear old-school Silicon Valley types expound erroneously on wireless. My god, did Bill Joy blow it so insanely badly on Charlie Rose tonight. I mean, he was so far off-base I wanted to scream. First, whoever put John Doerr, Bill Joy and the guy from Monster.com on the same stage at the same time should be shot. Just because these guys are in technology doesn't there's any sort of synergies that can be garnered from a conversation with all of them at the same time. Honestly, I wanted everyone but John Doerr to shut up so I could hear him speak. The other two just blabbered with little idea of what they were saying.
Anyways, wireless came up pretty quickly at the beginning of the segment and right off the bat I was shaking my head. Bill Joy started talking about the "many kinds of webs" which is sorta what John Doer said at Web 2.0, except that Bill got the big-picture concepts wrong and started talking about the Entertainment Web and the Information Web and the Personal Web, etc. Huh? And then, of course, that other web for your pocket device, which you'd need because of "different modalities of use." Yep. Look at my previous post to see my diametrically opposite opinions of this subject.
Then they start talking about why the U.S. is behind in broadband penetration when compared to Asia, and the conversation quickly moved back to wireless again. (The guy from Monster suggested that people in Asia never had fixed lines phones and no fiber networks... that they just jumped from smoke signals and cobblestone streets to advanced cellular technologies). Charlie, intelligently asked something like: "Should we have had more government regulation?" And Bill said, "yes, definitely" and sorta mumbled some weird reasonings about DARPA inventing the Internet and "four or five" incompatible wireless standards inhibiting progress, etc.
Why do the Silicon Valley vets feel like they just magically know everything about an area (telecommunications) that they ignored and disdained for so long just because it's now the new hip tech? CDMA technology and the fact that it is the core of the next generation of cellular communications is a direct result of the competition fostered in the United States wireless industry. CDMA would not have been invented or commercialized had the U.S. government mandated as other regions did that GSM be the only cellular network. Additionally, U.S. open standards are not only promoting advanced technologies, but more open business practices like flat-rate wireless data. So yeah, we've been a bit behind, but now we're catching up and quickly, having now set the standard for the rest of the world's third generation mobile technologies.
The amusing thing is that not only does Bill blow the regulation question, he then contradicts himself two minutes later by expounding on the joys of WiFi and unlicensed ("free") spectrum and fostering competition. Which is it? Competition or regulation? It sounds like Bill hasn't actually thought of this stuff before going on national TV to talk about it.
The coup de grace came when Bill talked about the Treo and Blackberry being the "hit devices for the mobile web" akin the Netscape Navigator. Watch me lose my mind. Not that these two devices aren't interesting and compelling in their niche market way, but they're so far away from being the world-changing platforms and companies that Netscape was its incredible. Actually to talk about either of these devices and the Mobile Web is ludicrous. The web has been tacked on to both as afterthoughts, with email and PIM information being the number one use.
Anyways, I thought the entire segment was useless. It was frustrating to me, and I'm sure completely bewildering to anyone outside the tech industry watch as well. I guess Charlie is going to be talking to more Silicon Valley types as the week progresses, hopefully they'll do a better job next time of organizing the guests and talking to them about topics they have even the remotest clue about.