I had written about this once before on my blog a few years ago, but it become very apparent to me as I was listening to the various talks at CTIA. Technology disruptions seem to move in 12-year cycles. Early 70s had the microprocessor revolution, 1984 saw the emergence of the personal computer, 1996 the adoption of the Internet, and now in 2008, we are seeing the rise of mobile data. (Coincidentally, cellphones first made their appearance around 1984 also I think — I remember seeing signs mentioning 25 years of cellphones at CTIA.) One could probably go back beyond the 70s, and find similar cycles.
In India, we have a terrific opportunity in the mobile data space to lead — but I have said this before about many different areas, only to be a disappointed time and again. We have a huge subscriber base for mobiles and we have a fraction of that for the fixed Internet (especially from homes). What we need to do is create a platform for driving mobile data usage. The government needs to make sure the 3G auction happens quickly and fairly — so we don’t end up in courts. Operators need to make sure they use the 3G spectrum not just for more efficient voice, but for actually pushing data services – or if they don’t do it, allow others to do it with sensible data plans and open networks. What do I think will happen? None of the above. I hope I am wrong…we don’t have another decade to waste in India.