My Deja-Vu — or “What do Blockchain & the Smartphone Revolution have in common”

Blockchain is the next technology that will change human lives.

Some weeks ago I joined spontaneously an interesting meet-up in Düsseldorf: ProductTank with the topic “Blockchain”. Until then I was only an external observer of both, ProductTank and Blockchain. I mean, yes, I knew a bit about the principles of Blockchain and the key application “Bitcoin”, but that’s it — I did not make up my mind or analyzed any potential that might come with the new technology, nor did I anticipate Blockchain as new technology that could be interesting for me or my employer.

Sitting at the event and listening first to the presentations, that also had the main intention to get a discussion started, I started digesting the essence and future potential of the technology and had a hard flashback 15 years ago.

Pretty much 15 years ago (in 2002/03) I started, similar to the blockchain-experts of today, seeing the potential of the mobile phone and analyzed business opportunities, services & use cases that I believed would bring a tremendous change in the way we would consume digital services and even beyond, how it would change our human lives. From 2007 to 2009 I was closely involved to prepare a nation-wide role-out of DVB-H, a potential technical standard for Mobile TV, which never got the needed traction, mainly because the industry was not ready yet to focus on what the people might need/want — the definition of user-centric design was not yet invented ;-).

Nevertheless in 2007 we witnessed another significant tech-event: the introduction of the first iPhone, followed by the first app-store in 2008. At this time (until 2013) I participated in numerous discussion if mankind need apps or if the mobile web browser would succeed. Today we know that there are always good reason for both, but the year-long hesitation slowed down many adoptions of businesses and industries, which partially are now suffering from the usage of the paying user and customers.

Listening to the Blockchain evangelists and their desperate trying of convincing the rest of us, reminded exactly on my past. Digesting and processing the new insights regarding the Blockchain technology I can now see clearly the next tech revolution rolling which will make many existing business models (states) obsolet and others arising. Yes, we might talk again about another 15, maybe even 20 years until the technology is industrialized and mainstream, but one sentence of a presenter got stuck in my head:

One thing is fix: Blockchain will not go away anymore!

If you are my age (above 40) you have heard that sentence before: 1) as the world wide web got widely available and 2) as the mobile internet showed its potential. For me it also means that I achieved the life-level “experienced” — I can tell the younger people how it was once upon a time ;)