With the lockdown, many of us are making use of modern technology like never before. We are using our computers, tablets and smartphones to keep in touch with family and friends through the myriad of apps available.
Whether it’s FaceBook, Skype, Whatsapp or Snapchat, the internet and these programs have allowed us to continue to enjoy each other’s company, even if it’s not quite the same as face-to-face.
We can also enjoy the enormous amount of TV and films available through the different streaming services and be able to watch what we like, whenever we want.
And all this got me thinking. I started my business back in 2004. What was available to us back then if COVID-19 had struck in that year?
Back In The Day
I am sure many of you reading this will remember the times before the internet and having only two or three channels on the TV.
This lockdown would have been different again then. However, let’s look not so far back to a time when the internet existed, computers were in mass use in homes and business, yet the ability to make use of them as we do today was very different.
The most significant change since 2004 has been what we use to enjoy the internet and its services.
Mobile phones existed back then, but the smartphone – the most common device for communication today – never really happened until the Apple iPhone appeared in 2007. Even then, there was no app store, and the mobile internet was far too slow for anything but basic email and websites.
Tablets also existed but again, thanks to Apple and its iPad, only took off in 2010.
Laptops had been around for a good while when 2004 hit. They were, however, still a lot more expensive or much less powerful than there desktop equivalents. Most of us, therefore, were still using large tower computers and bulky CRT monitors.
As far as communication went, these computers allowed us basic internet and email but not much else. The many services and apps we enjoy today as we stay at home were still to come.
Apps And Services
I am sure many of you are now enjoying video conferring apps and programs like Skype or Zoom. They allow us to keep in touch with many people while isolated, including friends, family or even people teaching us for one reason or another. You may have used them a lot over the years or, like me, hardly touched them at all.
Back in 2004, however, things were very different. Skype, one of the oldest video chat programs, had only just appeared. And It never really got going until 2005.
Whatsapp didn’t get going until 2009. Snapchat, Zoom and FaceTime were all released around 2013.
Facebook Messenger wasn’t available until 2008. Even Facebook, the first trendy mass communication website, had only just been released in 2004. It was, however, called The FaceBook and only available to Havard University Students.
TV and Streaming
You are likely watching more TV than ever while cooped up indoors and the choice we have now is fantastic. The internet has opened up the ability to view much, much more, and whenever we feel like it. Most of these services, however, were not around in 2004.
Netflix, the most popular streaming service, started out by renting DVDs in the post. The streaming side of things did not occur until 2010.
iPlayer began in 2007 and ITV player in 2010.
And all the newer services – Apple TV, Disney+ and others have only just opened their doors in the last couple of years.
So why did we not have all of these things back when I started my business?
The simple answer is broadband speed.
In 2004, the average speed for broadband was around one Mbps. The average speed today is forty-one.
Streaming video – whether through video calling or watching catch-up – uses a lot of this speed or bandwidth.
The internet of 2004 simply had to get faster to make these services work.
What you would have done with your time at home in 2004 would have been very different if this virus had stuck then.
There would have been no FaceBook, no video chat, no Whatsapp or Snapchat. Communication would have been simply via phone calls, texts or email.
We would have had a good selection of TV via Freeview or Sky but certainly not the massive choice or convenience of when to watch as we have today.
Would any of those things have been a bad thing, however? I’ll let you decide on that!