The World Cup and Global Connectivity

Every four years, it's amazing to see the way soccer (futbol) brings people together from all over the world, with eyes in Japan, Iran, Algeria, Brazil, and every other country on earth glued to the TV screen. For a month, politics and dispute disappear, and the world comes together over one simple thing.

The World Cup is now barely a month away, and I've been thinking about what this huge global event (the hugest global event?) means for global connectivity. Four years ago, when the World Cup was held in Germany, less than half of people on earth had access to the global communications network.  Only about 41% of the world's population had a mobile phone-- barely 20% in Africa. Today, in South Africa, where the World Cup will begin next month, nearly 100% of the population has a mobile phone-- and through that device, instant access to the worldwide information and communications network. Over 4 billion people on earth are connected.

I talk a lot about how universal access to a truly global network is, in itself, a seminal event in human history, and I wonder if this World Cup will be a tipping point in that regard:  pushing up the number of mobile subscribers because everyone wants to know the score of their games, increasing the number of smartphone users because everyone will want video on the go, increasing the use of cross-border communication for cheering, chatting and taunting... Fururism is a hazy science, but how could this global event not feed off of and contribute to global connectivity?

Anyhow, this ad, which already is one of my all-time favorite ads, sums up the nature of the World Cup as well as anything: