For most of the past 20 years, many of us have read about the future for digital revolutionaries and listened to visionary presentations.
Frankly, many of us would be skeptical about what we were hearing. And it wasn’t for a lack of desire. All of us want to believe that the digital revolution is real, and we want to be inspired by its incredible promise. But, digital technology has failed in many cases to live up to the hype.
But, this year the revolution became real. Today, we are entering an era where every process—and all content—is becoming digital, mobile, and virtual.
Every time we walk into a Starbucks, hear a song on the sound system, pull out a laptop, and download it wirelessly—the digital revolution is more real. Every time we go to a wedding reception with a digital camera and a printer and shoot, edit, and print the images; and present the bride and groom with a photo album before we leave—the digital revolution is more real.
Today, photography is a digital, mobile, virtual process. You create digital content—a digital camera is a computer with a lens—and then you take that content and network it. You send it wirelessly, edit it, share it, and when you are ready, you print it. Every process is following this pattern: every physical, analog process will become digital, mobile, and virtual.
So in this revolution, what is your role? Our role is to drive that digital change, democratize technology, and empower digital revolutionaries. Enabling the digital revolution takes more than gizmos and gadgets. What matters now is making it all work together in a way that creates simple and enjoyable digital entertainment experiences at an affordable price. Too many products still don’t connect to one another; they don’t work easily together. Too few of us have access to broadband at home. Too many products still cost too much. Too much digital content is still being taken illegally, undermining business models and artistic integrity. Issues of cost, complexity, connectivity, and manageability still get in the way of simple, enjoyable experiences.
We’ve focused on devices that we hold in our hands or hang on our walls—not on the ecosystem. Trying to solve all challenges by focusing just on plasma screens or music players is like trying to tell the story of television by focusing on the TV set.
The real revolution is different, cutting far deeper and broader than simply the devices that fly out of stores. The true revolution is in the way that entertainment is created, distributed, managed, and consumed. It is around the experience, and making the whole system come together—a system that requires an entire network of players and partners, from service providers, to media companies, to content creators, to online services and more—and all those players working together to deliver the best experience. The entire entertainment process—whether it is music, movies, TV, or images—is becoming digital, mobile, and virtual.
The Digital Future
To tie everything together today in one system means many devices, miles of cable, half a dozen remotes, hundreds of pages to read in manuals, and even then, good luck getting it all to work right.
From the beginning, the ultimate promise of the digital revolution was always about putting more power in the hands of people—to allow all of us to do more, be more, and enjoy more in our daily lives. The digital revolution is not about cyberspace-cold, alien, and distant-it is about technology that is intimate, intuitive, and accessible where we want it to work, when we want it to work, and how we want it to work.
We are entering an era in which every consumer becomes the photographers, film producers, and deejays. We are all digital revolutionaries now.
But the future will not be made simply by the companies that put the coolest devices in people’s hands, or create the prettiest devices to hang on walls. The future will be made by companies that understand how to move content from creation, to distribution, to consumption; and understand what is required to hide complexity and deliver a great end-to-end consumer experience, and companies who have the partners to create and support the experiences you want.
We are on the verge of a digital entertainment future where every one of us has access to every song ever written, every movie ever filmed, every photograph ever shot—available any time and anywhere we want it, on any device that’s most convenient.
Revolutions have always been about giving power to the people—about people taking control and about the power of democracy. And the digital revolution is about the democratization of technology, and the experiences it makes possible—digital experiences that change lives and change the world.
We don’t know for sure where the next five years will take us. But we do know that revolutions are not made by doubters, cynics, and skeptics. Revolutions are made by people who believe that everything is possible.