You Will… We Have!

Not having grown up in America, or having been old enough to there in 1993, I never heard of the AT&T “You Will” commercials up until now. But Jason Calacanis mentioned them in his email today, and after looking them up, I can only agree that he was 100% right in calling the guys who dream those ads up “freaking geniuses”.

The ads are here (4 of them in one YouTube clip).

Being in a research frame of mind at the moment, I wrote down the entire list of things AT&T said “You Will Do” more than 10 years ago together with how we are doing them now:

  1. “Borrow a book thousands of miles away” – Yes: Google Books & Scholar as well as Amazon Kindle, …
  2. “Cross the country without stopping for directions” – Yes: Garmin, TomTom, Google Earth, Street View & Maps, …
  3. “Send someone a fax from the beach” – Yes: Mobile broadband, Wifi, 3G, Edge, …
  4. “Pay a toll without slowing down” – Yes: Underground pass cards like Oyster and Navigo
  5. “Bought concert tickets from a cash machine” – No: But I can topup my phone from a cash machine or print event tickets at home (Fandango, Amiando, …)
  6. “[See] your baby from a phone booth” – Yes: 3G Video Phones, iSight, Skype Video calls, Google Talk Video calls, …
  7. “Open doors with the sound of your voice” – No: we’re not quite there yet but Google is doing some brilliant voice stuff as we speak
  8. “Carried your medical history in your wallet” – Yes: Biometric passports & ID cards, USB pen drives, …
  9. “Attended a meeting with your bare feet” – Yes: Video teleconferencing by iChat, UStream, Seesmic, …
  10. “Watch the movie you wanted to, the minute you wanted to” – Yes: YouTube, Hulu, Joost, iTunes, …
  11. “Learned many things from faraway places” – Yes: Wikipedia, TED, Mahalo, Twitter

I was impressed: both at the foresight of the people who dreamed them up, and the creativity and entrepreneurialism of the ones who built them for us since then.

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