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If this were the 1800s, the smart move for the next century would be to invest in telephone company stocks. Today's communication investment for the future is cloud stocks.
Think about it.
I don't make phone calls anymore. You may not, either. The smartphone has been the death of the phone.
We text one another, or e-mail. We Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ: FB ), we Yelp Inc. (NASDAQ: YELP ), and we Alphabet Inc. (NASDAQ: GOOGL ) Google things.
Just as the junk call industry reaches its dream of rendering all robocall defenses useless - the equipment can now spoof any incoming number, so you can't block them - no one cares.
Cloud Stocks Versus the Past
Google Duplex, the AI-based telephony program that amazed and frightened reporters when it was announced during Google's I/O event a few months ago , may prove a non-story.
Why are you calling a restaurant to make a reservation? Haven't you heard of Open Table from Booking Holdings Inc. (NASDAQ: BKNG )?
The telephone, our primary means of business communication for over 130 years, is practically gone.
Cloud Stocks and Business Communication
One result is that we no longer live synchronous business lives. You ask when you want, I answer when I want. Arranging a useful call is a dance of calendars, agendas, and conferencing software.
Have you even noticed that long distance is no longer a concept? When our daughter was going to school in Europe we Skyped. The same was true when our son was in China.
It's not just that voice is dead. Voice revenue is dead. Voice Over IP (VOIP), an exciting new thing in the last decade, is now ubiquitous. Everything happens on the Internet, and even with video voice is a low-bandwidth application.
A third point is that you can't hide. I made a joke about the actor Russell Crowe on Twitter Inc. (NASDAQ: TWTR ) recently. He and his fans were on me in minutes. (Sorry, Mr. Crowe.)
Phone Company Stocks Become Cloud Stocks
Another important point is that the phone company, as we knew it, is dead.
All the cabling AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T ) and Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ ) built out over a century, as the Bell System, is obsolete. These companies exist only because of their wireless efforts.
The cable "giants" like Comcast Corp. (NASDAQ: CMCSA ) can smell this coming for them, too. They're anxious to get into wireless and sell themselves as Internet Service Providers.
As a result of these trends the former US West, now part of CenturyLink Inc. (NYSE: CTL ) has a market cap of just $20 billion. This includes its own wireless, cloud hosting and Internet components.
TV is dead, too. We don't wait for TV schedules. We stream. We even stream live sports. Those networks that can't fit into "skinny bundles" won't be around in five years. Goodbye CBS Corp. (NYSE: CBS ). Buying Viacom Inc. (NASDAQ: VIAB ) will not guarantee your future.
Even the Internet as we knew it 20 years ago is obsolete.
There's a new "cloud Internet" where the great platforms live, Interstate Highways over the old road system.
It's controlled by companies that didn't exist when I became a tech reporter in the 1980s - Alphabet, Facebook, and (especially) Amazon.Com Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN ).
The oldest valid cloud players are Microsoft Corp. (NASDAQ: MSFT ) and Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL ), founded when I was in college in the 1970s, by people who were exactly my age.
The cloud platforms now have a market cap of $3.9 trillion. That's more than the whole communication and entertainment industries put together.
A Retailing Analogy
Retail sales aren't dead, but traditional retailing in which you fill a space with stuff and wait for people to come get it is.
This doesn't mean you can't compete with Amazon. It does mean you have to deal with it. You need an "omnichannel," scaled Web commerce sites with distribution behind it. Even if that's provided by Amazon itself.
The point is that the business world, the consumer world, has changed utterly, just in this decade. It takes your breath away.
One more thing. Change accelerates from here.
Dana Blankenhorn http://www.danablankenhorn .com is a financial and technology journalist. He is the author of the historical mystery romance The Reluctant Detective Travels in Time https://www.amazon.com/Reluctant-Detective-Travels-Time-ebook/dp/B01FECREKW available now at the Amazon Kindle store. Write him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter at @danablankenhorn . As of this writing he owned shares in T, MSFT and AMZN.Compare Brokers
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