There was a time, not long before celphones were in the pockets of billions of people worldwide, that Bell was a big player in the telecommunications industry.
So much has changed.
Bell had power and position every wannabe billionaire envied. I look at their stock today, which has done little in the last seven years, and wonder what they could have been.
They could have taken on Nokia, Motorola et al and been a global mobile phone maker. Instead they chose the media route, newspapers, television and the internet - all subscription businesses that, in theory, combined for strong synergies with their database and subscription management.
Sure, they are somewhat competitive in such industries, but long gone are the days where cash flowed in by the bucketload thanks to their monopoly on long distance call rates.
They could have given us something like the blackberry - proof that the celphone market still has niches that can explode onto the scene.
But they didn't. Their focus has not been a cutting edge developer of technology in our current technology boom. Their focus has been on competing in subscription markets, and even there they missed the boat.
Google and Yahoo, Myspace and Facebook, Youtube and blogging sites, Wikipedia. Skype and other computer based communication tools. They have the customers in their hands, they have first shot at leading them to bell-owned programs - the power to be a major player was in their hands. But what do they have to show for it. Nothing! A bunch of silver linings but no real gold rush.
I'm dissappointed. The once mighty bell has fallen. Ten years ago, after decades of strong growth and even outmanouvering deregulation, they looked to be in prime position to move forward with the technology boom. Instead, they look like little more than an ancient whisper in a rapidly changing world.
The Bell heyday is long gone.