Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Year of the Bear

For our monthly sector product (which I found recently, somewhat to my surprise, that some people actually seem to read) I entitled my end of year piece "Annus horribilis, annus mirabilis," which is precisely how it feels.

As of the close of play today, EuroTelco has underperformed the STOXX 600 by 21% year-to-date, and is the only sector to have lost money in an otherwise buoyant stock market. If investor attitudes were country music song titles, then this year would be called something like "Take Your Share Buyback and Shove It." Results in Q3 contained some bleak outlook statements regarding the next couple of years, to be followed (of course) by a strong recovery - a special Christmas menu of humble pie followed by jam tomorrow.

However, for all the shock and horror, it was a truly amazing year, the likes of which we may not witness again:

  • The vision, if not necessarily the net present value, of voice at the edge of the network was decisively validated - the sheer pace of innovation unleashed around this issue has been nothing short of jaw-dropping.
  • Decentralized and social media exploded this year, and it's difficult to find any company which does not claim to have a strategy for capturing the value created by user-generated content. I'm pretty sure this will be as easy as pinning Jello to the wall, but many will try anyway, and the facilitators will get paid and/or acquired.
  • There was also a lot of wild and wacky newsflow around alternative access technologies.
  • Things turned serious for P2P, and P2P got serious.
  • Google scared the hell out of everyone, well me at least.
  • The floorspace occupied by VoIP, IPTV and telco triple play industry events exceeded the total surface area of Canada for the first time in history, and the delegates to these shows, marched side-by-side into the sea, would form a neverending column - these are both facts, and I stand by them.
  • Equally hard to believe, but much more serious, was the RBOCs attempt late in the year to crash the hippy love fest (as they would probably term it) which is the open internet.

I've left a lot out, but as telco watchers of the future will no doubt say, if you can remember 2005 you weren't there!

My favorite telco event of the year was actually a fictional one - the arrival of the Wasp T-12 Speech Tool. I still occasionally get hits, sometimes from telcos and handset makers, searching for this - "What is the ARPU potential?" I can imagine them hopefully saying.

Anyway, it was an amazing year to behold and be part of (in my small virtual way), and no doubt 2006 will bring more wonders and horrors. I look forward to strolling through a nuclear winter EuroTelcoland in 2006 with you, my dear mega-uber value readers. Thanks to all of you for making this the best, and worst, year ever for EuroTelcoblog. God bless us every one.

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