Could IP version 6 take off at home, and on mobile gadgets, way before it reaches the data centre? It's starting to look that way.
It's hard to imagine now, but there was a time when business users drove PC innovation. Then - about 15-20 years ago, I guess - it shifted, and instead it was home users who clamoured for the fastest, most capable PCs.
Today, if we're honest, the average business's computing needs could still be met perfectly well by a 386 with 16MB of memory. Nobody _needs_ the bloat and resource wastage of Windows Vista and Microsoft Office 2007 to write a letter or calculate a set of accounts.
I was struck recently - during a conversation with Gigabit Ethernet pioneer Foundry Networks, as it happens - that the same is now true of networks as well. Hardly anybody _needs_ 100Mbit/s to their desk, never mind Gigabit - after all, plenty of teleworkers and homeworkers manage just fine with links of less than 10Mbit/s.
The only time a faster link might come in handy at work is when that software bloat crosses over onto the network - as it did yesterday, when a press relations officer thoughtlessly emailed me a photo I didn't ask for or want. All 24MB of it.
Meanwhile, it's home users and their service providers that are pushing the envelope. Triple-play networks - data, phone and TV - really can fill a multi-megabit pipe, and as more and more mobile devices get networked, network operators need more and more IP addresses for them.
So companies such as Foundry, who've been busy updating their gear to do IPv6 in hardware (as that's what will be needed for acceptable performance) aren't finding much demand for it.
Well, OK - there's demand from Asia, where there's a shortage of IPv4 addresses, and from the US government, which is trying to take a lead on IPv6, but most western business users look to be managing fine on NAT and private IPv4 ranges.
Still, Foundry VP Bob Schiff seems optimistic - well, that's his job I guess - about IPv6. But when the boss of a network vendor's "enterprise business unit" starts talking up consumers and the mobile Internet as technology drivers, ahead of businesses, one does start to wonder if IPv4 will ever go away.