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The future of data and social networks

  • By Alan Knott-Craig
  • July 7, 2011

Will voice traffic one day peak? Just as gas-guzzlers regularly panic over “peak-oil” theory, there are those that panic that the market for voice traffic will one day be saturated. There are only so many people in the world, and there are only so many hours in a day.


“Peak-voice” theory is not only plausible, it is highly likely. The United Nations predicts that the world’s population will peak in 2025. Assuming everyone has a handset and can afford to speak all day (and wants to!), the voice market will be saturated, i.e.: it will become ex-growth.


So where is the growth area? Where do those looking for endless upside turn to? The answer is strangely obvious.




Data. Data. Data.


The only limiting factor to data consumption is speed of throughput. And that is a function of technology. And if there is one thing history has taught us, it is that there is no limit to technological progress.


So, during our lifetimes, data usage will continue to grow. Exponentially and at an accelerating rate.


Think of it anecdotally. When you install faster ADSL at your house, do you use the Internet less? No. You briefly lower your consumption (due to less time spent on Internet) until you realize how much more exciting the Internet is now that your speeds are faster, and before you know it you’ve doubled your monthly data cap!


The only limiting factor to data growth is data speeds, which in turn is limited by technology, which in turn is limited by human ingenuity.


So what is the future? The future is not voice. The future is data.


That’s why social networks are exciting. The Internet is all about sharing data. Sharing data. Isn’t that the most basic underlying function of social networks? Isn’t that what Zuckerberg keeps preaching?


He’s not preaching the, “Lets share everything about ourselves to everyone else,” sermon because he’s a Good Samaritan. He’s doing it because that is what Facebook is all about. Sharing data.


So if you want to get into the sweet spot of the one industry that is guaranteed to keep growing for our lifetime, our children’s lifetime, and our grandchildren’s lifetime, get into social networks, and get a cut of the data revenue.


And put on your seatbelt.