Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Mobile Internet Growth

Mobile is undergoing two separate massive growths:

  • Mobile is being adopted world wide. Every second there are 25 additional mobile phones purchased.
  • Within Mobile the switch to using phones for the internet is also growing massively. Spurred on the adoption of the iPhone use of mobile internet is now becoming mainstream
Today there are 4.8Billion mobile phones in use world wide. Just over 1Billion of these are being used for the Internet. Within 2-4 years the number of people using the mobile internet will have doubled to 2Billion. I've just watch the CEO of InMobi saying that there will be 5Billion internet connected phones in a few years. This is on the upper end of estimates, but frankly no-one knows how far it will go. Within 2 years there will be 7B phones in use; how many of these using the internet is not known at all -it could well be as much as 5Billion.

This change is highly significant it will sporn entire new industries and a small number will grow to the scale of today’s Google or Facebook.

Is the mobile Internet any different to the Internet itself? The answer is neither, yes nor no. There is only one Internet; the differences are only in the devices which connect to it. The problem is that mobiles have diverse capabilities and it’s this that makes the challenges for creating a consistent user experience for products installed on these devices. Long term these differences will diminish. Also some approaches taken have made the problem simpler by concentrating on only high end mobile devices. Again long term this may be a correct approach but it does not help today’s 1Billion mobile internet users in any significant way in the near future (2 to 3 years). Although from a commercial perspective concentrating on the high end also means the audience will be the wealthy and this will lead to more profits… certainly in the short term this is not the correct approach. It’s my belief that a company which is going to be successful in the next 2 years needs to cope with all mobile devices not just the high end.

The other issue is where the growth is. Certainly phone adoption growth is now low in the developed world (although mobile internet take up is still strong in the developed countries). India, China and Indonesia are the main growth countries for phone adoption. Added to that, the fixed internet does not have a strong take up in India and Indonesia. For example in India there are only 12M fixed internet users wheras there are more than 450M people with mobile phones. This where the really massive take up of the Mobile Internet is occurring and will continue to occur there is no legacy or expectation set by fixed internet user experience as there is in the west. In countries like China and Russia where both fixed and mobile internet growth is occurring a different group of internet products will appear many based on the more conventional current desktop products such as Facebook and Google.

So the opportunies are massive for the companies that understand the issues facing users and can respond with appropriate software products. This is particularly true in the Mobile only internet world.

This is an extract from my book "Advice for Mobile entrepreneurs" which can be purchased from Blackberry appworld.

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