Thursday, March 17, 2005

The real digital divide

Last night I was sitting on the sofa, playing around with Skype, watching a bit of television, and generally being unproductive. I tormented myself by watching an interview with another sell-side telecom analyst who, when asked about VoIP, referred to a company I'd never heard of called "Sky-pee" (hey is it March 2005 or what?). I can only assume that said analyst may not have had any personal experience with Sky-pee, and I wonder generally what proportion of finance industry pundits have actually taken the time to consider the user experience before dismissing it as "kidstuff."

I then got pinged on Skype by a guy in our IT department who also uses it - or so I thought. It turned out to be his 17-year-old son, who was responding to my earlier unanswered IM, just to say, "This is xxxxx's son. My dad's asleep now." We had a brief chat, and then I wrote, "It's 11:00 PM and Jeremy Paxman has just appeared on my TV screen - that's my cue to go to bed." The reply was:

"Jeremy Paxman?"

The American equivalent of this when I was 17 would have been to say, "Who's Tom Snyder?" Inconceivable. He might as well have said, "What's broadcast TV?"

I paused. He responded, "Don't worry, I'll Google him."

We signed off, and I thought about the diverging worlds underlying all this convergence. Telcos, in your IPTV assault, make sure your focus groups are full of 17 year-olds. And analysts, get in the game.

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