TECH TALK: Mobile Internet: Views

There are many differing views on what the mobile Internet constitutes. Is it the existing Internet shrunk to the small screen of the mobile? Is it a new Internet with content and services created entirely for the mobile? What about mobile operators unlike on the PC-based Internet, the access to the world outside the walled gardens is still not a given. Will users really pay for things they get on the mobile phone? If not, what are the alternate business models? What is the equivalent of search and contextual advertising in the mobile space? Do users really want the Internet on the mobiles or would they prefer the entertainment options like music and TV? Who will be the Yahoos and Googles of the mobile Internet?

Docomos i-mode succeeded because it took an end-to-end approach and focused on building the ecosystem. It was, after all, the mobile operator with an existing large user base. Japanese users are also known to be tech-friendly. So, can the ideas that made Docomo succeed in Japan really be translated to other countries? After all, I-mode services in other parts of the world where Docomo has expanded havent really done very well.

Questions aplenty. As we go about addressing these questions and pondering the future of the mobile internet, let us begin by looking at what others have to say.

Walter Adamson wrote, in a post entitled The Mobile Internet should be pronounced Dead:

We all know, or perhaps we all dont, that a mobile phone is not a lounge room viewing experience, it is not a communal experience, it is not an Internet (PC) experience it is personal, personalisable, private, intimate, interactive and integrated with lifestyle.

Mobile Internet as a whole is a failure growth is a hard slog, there are no killer applications, consumers have become chilled because of previous bad experiences and failed expectations, and there is complete confusion between access and services and applications and open garden and Internet. Hence the reasons that the sales process, the retail conversations at the sharp end, are also in complete confusion and hence revert to the lowest common denominator price. And price for voice services at that.

We have to declare the Mobile Internet dead in order to be able to move on. The mental baggage of the Mobile Internet is a killer application a killer of commercial success.

Of course there have been successes, but these tend to prove the failure of Mobile Internet as commonly conceived.

Walter quotes Mike Gauba, an experience consultant on 3G and value. Mike believes that the Internet and Mobile Commerce are reverse paradigms.

The Internet expanded horizontally and then started witnessing some vertical growth, where as mobile commerce will first experience a vertical growth, which then will diffuse to become a horizontal market.

Mobile Internet is a fallacy in the short and medium-term.

Let us look from this perspective, that mobile solutions address the needs of those on the go. The needs on the go are very specific and hence limited. These specific needs will drive vertical applications.

When the mobile commerce active user market penetration reaches 60-80%, one will witness, hundreds of these applications addressing the different needs of different users. There will be a significant overlap of these applications and it is at that time, the market starts becoming horizontal.

Next Week: Mobile Internet (continued)

TECH TALK Mobile Internet+T

Published by

Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.