You Are Not LatePlatforms Trump ProductsWhat Bits Want
Can you imagine how awesome it would have been to be an entrepreneur in 1985 when almost any dot com name you wanted was available? All words; short ones, cool ones. All you had to do was ask for the one you wanted. It didn’t even cost anything to claim. This grand opportunity was true for years. In 1994 a Wired writer noticed that mcdonalds.com was still unclaimed, so with our encouragement he registered it, and then tried to give it to McDonalds, but their cluelessness about the internet was so hilarious it became a Wired story. Shortly before that I noticed that abc.com was not claimed so when I gave a consulting presentation to the top-floor ABC executives about the future of digital I told them that they should get their smartest geek down in the basement to register their own domain name. They didn’t.
The internet was a wide open frontier then. It was easy to be the first in category X. Consumers had few expectations, and the barriers were extremely low. Start a search engine! An online store! Serve up amateur videos! Of course, that was then. Looking back now it seems as if waves of settlers have since bulldozed and developed every possible venue, leaving only the most difficult and gnarly specks for today’s newcomers. Thirty years later the internet feels saturated, bloated, overstuffed with apps, platforms, devices, and more than enough content to demand our attention for the next million years. Even if you could manage to squeeze in another tiny innovation, who would notice it?
Yet if we consider what we have gained online in the last 30 years, this abundance smells almost miraculous. We got: Instant connection with our friends and family anywhere, a customizable stream of news whenever we want it, zoomable 3D maps of most cities of the world, an encyclopedia we can query with spoken words, movies we can watch on a flat slab in our pocket, a virtual everything store that will deliver next day — to name only six out of thousands that could be mentioned.
But, but…here is the thing. In terms of the internet, nothing has happened yet. The internet is still at the beginning of its beginning. If we could climb into a time machine and journey 30 years into the future, and from that vantage look back to today, we’d realize that most of the greatest products running the lives of citizens in 2044 were not invented until after 2014. People in the future will look at their holodecks, and wearable virtual reality contact lenses, and downloadable avatars, and AI interfaces, and say, oh, you didn’t really have the internet (or whatever they’ll call it) back then.
And they’d be right. Because from our perspective now, the greatest online things of the first half of this century are all before us. All these miraculous inventions are waiting for that crazy, no-one-told-me-it-was-impossible visionary to start grabbing the low-hanging fruit — the equivalent of the dot com names of 1984.
Because here is the other thing the greybeards in 2044 will tell you: Can you imagine how awesome it would have been to be an entrepreneur in 2014? It was a wide-open frontier! You could pick almost any category X and add some AI to it, put it on the cloud. Few devices had more than one or two sensors in them, unlike the hundreds now. Expectations and barriers were low. It was easy to be the first. And then they would sigh, “Oh, if only we realized how possible everything was back then!”
So, the truth: Right now, today, in 2014 is the best time to start something on the internet. There has never been a better time in the whole history of the world to invent something. There has never been a better time with more opportunities, more openings, lower barriers, higher benefit/risk ratios, better returns, greater upside, than now. Right now, this minute. This is the time that folks in the future will look back at and say, “Oh to have been alive and well back then!”
The last 30 years has created a marvelous starting point, a solid platform to build truly great things. However the coolest stuff has not been invented yet — although this new greatness will not be more of the same-same that exists today. It will not be merely “better,” it will different, beyond, and other. But you knew that.
What you may not have realized is that today truly is a wide open frontier. It is the best time EVER in human history to begin.
You are not late.
你能想象在1985年的时候成为一名创业者有多棒吗？当时几乎所有你想要的任何.com 域名都是有效的。所有关键词 - 短的，很酷的，应有尽有。你只要申请就行了，甚至无需任何费用。这样的好机会持续了好多年。1994年，一名《连线》杂志的作者注意到 mcdonalds.com 仍然无人申请，因此在我们的鼓励下，他注册了这个域名，然后试图把它卖给麦当劳，但是麦当劳对互联网的无知到了滑稽的地步，以至于这件事情成了《连线》杂志的一则故事。在此之前，我注意到 abc.com 还没有申请，所以当我给 ABC 公司的顶层高管们做关于数字未来的咨询报告时，我告诉他们，他们应该让公司里最聪明的极客赶快到地下室注册他们公司的域名。但他们没有照做。
然而，如果我们回想在过去30年来从互联网上得到的收获，其丰富的程度是几乎不可思议。我们拥有了：在任何地方与我们的朋友和家人联系的即时通讯工具，根据我们的想法定制的新闻，世界上大多数城市的可缩放的3D地图，可通过声音查询的百科全书，在能装入口袋的平板电脑上观看的电影，隔天就能送货的虚拟百货商店 - 我们只是提及了上千个种类当中的6项而已。
但是，但是 … 事情就是这样。就互联网而言，什么都还没有发生呢。互联网仍处于初始阶段的初始阶段。如果我们可以钻进一台时间机器，来到30年后的未来，从那个时间段回望今天，我们将会发现，2044年人们在生活中所依赖的大多数伟大产品都是在2014年之后才发明的。未来的人们将看着他们的全息成像面板、可穿戴式虚拟现实隐形眼镜、可下载的虚拟造型、以及人工智能的交互界面，而且，他们会说，哦，你们那个时代还没有真正的互联网（或者不管他们如何称呼）。
他们是对的。因为我们从现在的角度来看，本世纪上半叶最伟大的互联网产物都是在我们之前出现的。所有这些神奇的发明等待着梦想家们在疯狂的，“没人告诉我这是无法实现”的时刻，来抓住这一唾手可得的机会 - 就像1984年的 .com 域名一样。
过去30年，我们已经创造了一个非凡的起点，一个坚实的平台，以此用来打造真正伟大的东西。不过，最酷的东西还没发明出来呢 - 尽管这类新的、伟大的东西将和现有的东西不尽相同。它不仅是“更好”的，还将是不同的、超越性的，而且另类。这一切，你都将看到。