An excerpt from my Knowledge@Wharton interview in October 2006:
Given the way that mobile phones have taken off in India during the past four to five years, I am convinced that more people in India will access the Internet through mobile phones than through computers linked to narrowband or broadband connections. We need to start thinking about the mobile Internet differently than we do about the PC Internet.
For me, three words help define the mobile Internet. They are: now, near and new. “Now” is about what is happening right now in real time. Wherever I am, I can find the latest cricket scores or the top news stories because my mobile phone is always with me. “Near” is about location — it can be as small as a neighborhood or it could be a city. If I’m about to take a flight this evening, could I get an alert on my mobile phone if the flight is delayed? Some of this is starting to happen, but it needs to happen a lot more. It could make a real difference to people’s lives. Finally, “new” is about new stuff in which I might be interested. Just as a search engine like Google is a good way to find material that has been published in the past, the mobile phone is a great way to keep in touch with future or incremental content. If there is a sale, it should be possible for my book store to send me an alert and suggest business books that I might find interesting.
In other words, the shape of the Internet in India going forward could be rather different than it was in the past. The closest analogy I can think of is Japan during 1999-2000, when NTT DoCoMo’s i-Mode wireless Internet service took off. That happened because it was an open platform. The challenge is to open the mobile platform to content and other service providers. That’s one thing that needs to change.