Working from home may never be the same. Bill Menezes, senior principal analyst at Gartner, the global research firm, imagines a post-Covid-19 world where business travel may be limited and large teams less viable. Menezes envisions scenarios where smaller groups are needed in the field since others can guide, assess, …
To know a hard drive is to fear its death. For Brian Wilson, programmer, the affliction was a familiar one. Among friends and relatives, he was the go-to IT guy (the “family geek,” as he puts it), and he was used to getting calls about their tech problems–the big, the …
I’m no stranger to the events business. It’s in my blood. During the past 30 years I’ve been involved organizing, producing, and keynoting thousands of events. I even built a technology platform and a broadcast studio that I’ve used for live streaming virtual keynotes and live conferences since 2007.That said, the …
Elon Musk has been saying for years that he believes the future of the Internet resides in space. And now, he’s planning to make a major change that could facilitate that transition sooner rather than later.
“Right now, we are a private company, but Starlink is the right kind of business that we can go ahead and take public,” said Gwynne Shotwell, SpaceX’s chief operating officer, said on Thursday, according to Bloomberg. “That particular piece is an element of the business that we are likely to spin out and go public.”
Starlink is SpaceX’s name for a satellite-based Internet service. The company envisions sending thousands of satellites into space that can beam Internet access back to the ground. Those satellites will come together in a cluster over highly populated areas to ensure they deliver enough coverage. They’ll also beam Internet to less-populated parts of the world where people still aren’t online.
So far, SpaceX has shipped 240 Starlink satellites into space, and plans to deliver many thousand more in the coming years. Musk has already tested the service, but it’s not currently available to the public.
On Thursday, Shotwell didn’t provide specifics, but did say that the service will be substantially cheaper than existing Internet access costs and will deliver speeds that are five to ten times faster that what you get now, potentially putting it in the same game-changing class as 5G.
Shotwell didn’t say when Starlink would go public, but all signs are pointing to sooner rather than later. And it makes sense.
As part of SpaceX, Starlink is just a component in a broader business. And while it gets attention at SpaceX, it’s not the company’s main focus. By spinning it off, SpaceX can have a company in Starlink that’s focused solely on building an Internet service in space. And perhaps most importantly, it could help to expedite a process of upgrades that could take years to develop terrestrially.
For investors, it also means an opportunity to have a stake in a company that has remained private since its inception. As recent Tesla gains have proven, there’s money to be made in Elon Musk’s companies. And with Starlink’s help, investors might be able to do it again.
Better yet for Starlink, it’s an opportunity to raise much-needed cash.
Still, plenty of questions surrounding Starlink and SpaceX abound. And there’s no guarantee that the company will actually go public. But look for more to come on that front — and for satellites to beaming Internet to your house sooner rather than later.
Published on: Feb 7, 2020
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.
The next wave of billion-dollar business ideas–the new Google, Netflix or Amazon–will emerge in the next two to three years.
That’s according to technology forecaster and strategist Daniel Burrus, CEO of Burrus Research.
“Two to three years is fast,” says Burrus. “This is a gigantic opportunity. This is an entrepreneur’s dream.”
What will spark this new burst of entrepreneurial activity? A new generation of mobile technology, known as 5G–just as the current tech giants were born of the current version of the Internet.
Yes, the new technology will afford bigger, faster pipes for data. But the larger impact is vastly improved quality, timeliness, and usefulness of that data.
How can you find these billion-dollar business ideas? Burris and other top futurists suggest that you ask these five questions and explore your answers.
1. What can people do together, virtually?
Interacting in real time will be even easier with 5G’s faster speeds. Many of the more interesting new applications being dreamed up leverage the new networks’ low latency–a term describing delays in data transfer.
For example, if your garage band wanted to jam together online, it’d be a bit frustrating on most current networks. There’d be a barely perceptible, but still irritating, lag between when your bandmate plays a note and when you hear it. That’s not a good way to rehearse. 5G will solve that problem and also open the door to other experiences that groups of people can participate in simultaneously and virtually, says Burrus.
Sports is one promising area. The huge virtual raven that appeared in a December 12 Baltimore Ravens game television broadcast, and on jumbotrons in the stadium, is one example of the kind of quirky new applications that are expected to emerge in the new year, says Brian Solis, an independent digital analyst based in Redwood City, California. “But the new killer apps will build upon that,” mixing elements of virtual and augmented reality in what’s known as mixed reality.
2. What needs to be connected?
5G has the capability to transform the Internet of Things into the Internet of Everything. How? The Internet of Things is about to get a major upgrade. Think about car makers partnering with one another so that all automobiles are connected, feeding a grid of networks that inform the cars about accidents, weather, and road conditions. Right now, it takes too much time to send that information from a car to a network and back out to another car. 5G will make this sort of connectivity possible. “There are possibilities no one has imagined,” says Solis.
3. Where are the surer bets?
Any new technology has its share of unknowns. Clearly delineating certainty from uncertainty nearly always results in a better strategy. So, start by checking what’s a real trend versus what’s just an assumption, says Burrus.
The 5G rollout is happening, says Burrus, so that’s a definite. Less certain is the expectation that 5G will take a long time to reach rural users. It’s important to differentiate between such “hard”–what’s certain–and “soft” trends–what’s just assumed and less certain, according to Burrus. Otherwise, he says, you may miss opportunities by mistaking assumptions for facts.
“The opportunity with a ‘soft’ trend is that we can change it,” says Burrus. And as an entrepreneur, you can have a role to play in doing so.
4. What is confusing?
Technology that leverages 5G can help users better understand the physical world.
By combining 5G technology with advances in visual search, augmented reality will give people the ability to identify most anything in their world, says Mike Liebhold, a senior researcher and distinguished fellow at Institute for the Future, a not-for-profit think tank.
The trick to making augmented reality helpful and seamless–as opposed to glitchy and irritating–will lie in providing information about an environment as-needed, with technology that is nearly invisible. The implications are especially clear for industries such as tourism. You could walk around a city as a tourist, for example, and an app running in the background could provide your own virtual guide.
Apple’s forthcoming virtual reality glasses will make a big difference in the development of this new technology and its applications, says Liebhold predicts. “It’s going to be a big shift,” he says.
While Apple, he says, “is not the first company to do a lot of things, when they do it, they do it right.” The headset, he says, is expected to be priced for the mass market and help drive the adoption of 5G networks. He expects it to be released by mid-2021.
5. How can you create a better customer experience?
The potential for a better customer experience often spurs the adoption of new technologies. And it’s often what spurs companies to invest, Solis says. In the case of 5G, he says, many customer experiences will improve by using the new technology to do the same tasks, only a bit better and faster. Building innovation on top of that can create new value. The combination leads to disruption, says Solis, “and that’s going to happen really quickly.”
Most immediately, he says, companies are going to prioritize mobile data to improve their ability to personalize their products and services, both online and in person. That might mean better chatbots, a more-informed customer-service rep, or the use of artificial intelligence to anticipate what a customer’s needs might be.
“Once you as a consumer see what real-time personalization looks like,” says Solis, “it’s something you want.”