The Next Big Thing: Mobile

Source: W3C
Source: W3C

Mobile? What! How can mobile be the next big thing? Mobile is old. There are over 3,8 billion mobile subscriptions in the world already. For sure it must be big by now. Then think again. The majority of phones are voice and messaging devices. Only about 5% are “smart phones”. The real mobile revolution has not happened yet.

Mobile “smart phones” are phones loaded with features and have some web browsing functionality. You can access the Internet over the phone air interface, usually 3G technologies such as CDMA. But now we are seeing the rise of “super smart phones” which are smart phones but much smarter than smart. Using terms such as smart is of course vague and lacks definition. So let me define the super in “smart”.

First, these phones have real web browsers. Not some “wap” or “mobile  web” solutions but simply web. The same web as on your laptop. And it looks good. The first device to show us that real browsing was possible on a mobile phone was the iPhone. This device, and now joined by competitors, provides an excellent way to browse the web.

Secondly, these devices have WiFi. The first WiFi revolution was when WiFi became built into laptops. Now they are built into mobile devices.What does that mean? You can use your home network, or work network, but most importantly it means bandwidth increase. WiFi connections are usually faster and more reliable than current cellular technologies, so you get fast access to the Internet.

Thirdly, these devices are only used by a fraction of the current market in the world. Most penetration is in the business communities of the developed world, who already have Internet access. This leaves the rest of the world still using simpler version of cellular phones. Think when we start to see real adoption around the globe. For many countries this will be people’s main access to the Internet.

It is common for technologies to follow exponential growth. For a long time the incremental increases are small and far between. But over time they start to count and become significant as they cross the knee of the curve, the tipping point, and start to have real impact. I believe that the next mobile revolution is starting.

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