Watch What the Kids Are Doing

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Earlier this week, I went to a school meeting with parents in my daughter’s 5th grade class. As it turns out, some of the parents were giddy talking about how their kids are coming home from school and joining Google Hangout sessions with their school friends. There are about 14 kids from my daughter’s class that do this on a regular basis (4 boys, 10 girls…4 very smart boys!). What is fascinating is that the kids will leave their Google Hangout sessions open while they read, do homework, chat, or go about their nightly routine.

As they work, the conversations continue in the background and kids seamlessly move in and out of the Hangout sessions. The parents occasionally pop into the room and the video chat session to let all know that there is supervision. Imagine that! Kids today are ushering in yet another paradigm for using social networks and technology. While this behavior is adopted by the younger generation, we know that eventually it will work its way into everyone’s lives such that we will all have ongoing video sessions on our screens while we go about our daily lives. In this new world, what will happen to mobile calling? Right now, the average American  makes or takes about 12.5 mobile calls per day, and that number (surprisingly for some parents) is almost 50% higher for teens.

I can imagine the traditional mobile call will melt downward to a few times per day and social voice and video activity will shift onto the platforms where we socialize. Some work related calls (voice or video) will also begin to move to platforms like LinkedIn, Chatter or even Box.com. Dialing a phone number or trying to IP-connect to someone outside of a social network will become an annoyance.

We could soon see a world where video and voice become more important to teens than texting. From the mobile carriers point of view, they are becoming aware that they need to work within influencing technologies and do more than just offer network API’s. Carriers understand they need to offer solutions for the big social networks that work for both developers and subscribers. With almost 6 billion mobile phone subscribers on a 24/7 global network, carriers understand that they have a lot more to offer Facebook and Twitter than Skype does. With that said, it’s easy to see how VoIP and video can augment core phone connectivity, giving users the best of both worlds. The carriers still hold some great cards in a world of disruptive technologies, and innovation can work in their favor.

It would be safe to predict that the carriers will try many approaches to solving this problem. And with over $1.3 trillion dollars in global revenue, the mobile industry has a lot to protect.

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