If you think the Internet has changed the world, just wait—an even bigger Internet revolution is just around the corner. After years of talk, communications services based on Internet Protocol (IP) technology are finally moving into the mainstream. Just look at Apple's new movie download service. After just one week of service, Apple has pulled in one million dollars in revenue. Downloadable movie are nothing new; competing services like CinemaNow have been around since 1999. However, I predict that iTunes huge user base and unbeatable usability will make Apple's movie download service far more popular than its predecessors.
I expect Apple's service to really take off when Apple rolls out its iTV box. If this box is as simple to install and operate as Apple claims, it will fill in the one gap that has kept downloadable movies from gaining popularity: So far, there has been no way to make a simple, seamless connection between the PC and the television. (I'm not counting the highly acclaimed Slingbox, which sends content from the TV to the PC, not the other way around.)
If this is all too speculative for you, look at the progress VoIP has already made. The US already has 6.9 million VoIP subscribers, and over 400,000 new subscribers switch to VoIP every month. Or how about this: A recent study found that the quality of some VoIP services exceeds that of the traditional phone network. That's what I call success!
There are still some trouble spots for IP-based services. Most notably, cellular service providers are wary of the "network convergence" that is possible with IP services. The cellular providers have good reason to be concerned: IP services will dramatically change their business models. Nonetheless, I'm convinced that it is only a matter of time before they make the switch to IP.