Part 1, Duck Pizza! An Idea Before Its Time
For the past half-decade, few industries have received such adulation or self-congratulation as Podcast. Oxford Road has shared this enthusiasm throughout the ascent. Yet amidst the deafening fanfare, there is a much larger movement afoot, which stands to upend the audio landscape for marketers and transform the way consumers, corporations, and governments deal with voice. Relatively speaking, Podcast is only a precursor to the forthcoming revolution. What follows is the first installment in a four-part series written by Oxford Road Founder and CEO Dan Granger as he guides you through the past, present and future of a voice-connected internet, and all that it portends. This series of editorials is a must-read for both brands and media organizations if they are to seize the opportunity it represents, before it falls into the hands of faster-moving competitors. For 1:1 consulting to ensure your brand is prepared for Internet of Voice, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
The call came out of the blue. Fate had brought us together and we must meet at once. He had initiated the second coming of Google and had not a moment to spare. His name was Robert Blaisch. Fifty-seven years old, weathered, but bursting with vision and a deep understanding of the inner workings of emerging technology. A former hippy restauranteur with a Berkeley Degree, Bob was the father of “The Voice Internet.” This overwhelmingly ambitious tech company had spent ten years in stealth mode before claiming to be a tech company or “in stealth” became commonplace. Since 1997, he doggedly pursued his vision of an interconnected world where voice would give us instant access to anything imaginable, or at least commensurate with what you could get on the internet. He had purchased the vanity phone number 1-800-555-5555 to serve as the single point of entry and operating system for a new worldwide web of audio. His laboratory was buried below the Louise Green Millinery Co. along the 405 Freeway in West Los Angeles. I was in my late twenties and reaching for minor innovations in the radio industry. Immediately, I fell head over heels for his mad scientist routine and would be Marty McFly to his Doc. I set up pitches and leveraged my radio experience to give him contact with the industry he sought to re-engineer.
“Duck Pizza!” This he would shout into his cell phone as a demonstration of the platform’s capabilities to fulfill even the most obscure of fantasies for transacting commerce via voice command. He would trot out surrogate father and Academy Award Winning Actor Martin Landau to bring some old Hollywood charm and credibility to his offering. On paper, his strategy was flawless. Problematically, every demo seemed to fail mid-pitch as his speech recognition software could not keep pace with his vision. Any enthusiasm from corporate executives waned with every botched demo. We cobbled together a few small deals to test its usefulness to advertisers, but the technology could not support a sustainable business. Soon I moved on and redirected my energy to make way for the coming of the Great Podcast Revolution. Bob fought valiantly for another decade, ultimately scrapping The Voice Internet for parts and selling the world’s best vanity phone number to a law firm. Two years ago, all out of money and a Rolodex long worn thin, Bob awoke from his impossible dream. The Voice Internet was disconnected.
In a tragic coincidence, The Voice Internet’s demise occurred at the precise moment in history that a voice connected internet was reborn in the form of Amazon Echo, Google Home, and the Apple HomePod. All along, Robert Blaisch had been right in his vision, but wrong in his timing. And, perhaps, his execution.
In technology, timing is everything. But like gazing at the stars with the naked eye, what appears to be the present is only an approximation of the way things used to be. To predict where things are going, we must triangulate—from the known past as well as our imagination.
For those of us who are not Technological Futurists by trade, how are we to live and adapt to the changing of an era? We have now witnessed The Information Age and watched it dismantle and reorganize our reality as we understand it. Today, we feel the tremors of a new wave in technology. We know that the ground on which we stand is about to shift again, exponentially evolving from what we’ve already seen. For the first time, we are legitimately unsure of our future value or ability to compete with the forthcoming capabilities of machines.
This is part 1 of a 4 part series. Click HERE for the next chapter.