The future certainly looked bright back then. Judging by the service launch dates at the end of the video, this was late 1999 or early 2000. Right about the time of the dotcom bubble bursting, in fact.

There was definitely a sense in the tech industry of anything being possible back then, with business believing that the old rules of commerce were being re-written. I’d just left Orange and moved to Alcatel, and people did believe these sorts of services would be launching soon.

The reality is that even 12 years later many of these are still not feasible, and some have closed (anyone remember Orange’s Wildfire personal assistant?). For something to launch and gain widespread adoption it needs both technology that is fit for the mass market and general cultural readiness to adopt it. One without the other will fail, and predicting cultural trends is probably tougher than predicting technological trends.

The Future’s Bright — Benedict Evans


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