Tim O'Reilly quotes Howard Kurtz and then notes:

HK: Really, can you think of an industry (okay, maybe American automakers) that has frittered away such huge advantages and sent its customers scrambling for alternatives? TO:I can think of several. Close to home, Microsoft and the PC software industry is a great example. Television networks and local stations are another. Cell phone carriers are still making money, but I'll lay odds that they will one day wake up to disruptive competition.

Tim got 2 out of 3 right. Cellphones, trubki, handys, keitai, shou ji, whatever you call them, they rule interpersonal communication. And we do not have any viable substitutes for cellphones (wifi+voip cellphones? hmm, better make that a wifi+wepcrack+voip cellphone).

Besides, in places other than the US, they have moved out of the communication "space" and into banking (South Africa) and commerce (Japan and Europe). America lags largely because America has a lot of things to upgrade relative to Japan and Europe. Those huge capital outlays will probably allow cellphone carriers to maintain their cozy oligopoly for a long while. During that time, they will probably merge with payment systems as they have in smaller parts of the world, so that you will be able to replace your wallet with your cellphone.

Perhaps the most maddening part of Tim's statement lies in his prediction that cellphone carriers will someday wake up to disruptive competition. Economists call this disruptive competition "creative destruction", and note that its probability of occurring approaches 1 as time passes. For it not to occur, either A) innovation worldwide has to stop working on communication methods, or B) global civilization has to end. A seems highly improbable, and with B, Tim won't care about being wrong, because he'll have much more important things to worry about. Tim should know better than to argue so speciously....