Ideas on the future of the Mobile Internet have so far varied from enthusiastic to pessimistic. But as technologies improve and valuable market opportunities appear, the first group is growing rapidly.
‘Mobile phones fuel online growth’
Vinton Cerf, one of the pioneers of the Internet and now vice president at Google, is placing his bets on mobile phones to fuel online growth in the coming years.
He compared the relatively low global Internet penetration to the exponentially growing amount of mobile subscriptions. While ‘only’ a sixth of the world population – about 1.1 billion – has Internet access, there are already 2.5 billion mobile phone users. Especially in fast growing markets such as China and India, millions of mobile subscriptions are added every month.
Cerf believes the mobile phone will make the Internet more accessible to more people. Google wants to stimulate mobile internet use and hopes to gain a larger market share this way.
Another big fish with faith in the mobile internet is Hamid Akhavan. At 3GSM in Barcelona, the CEO of T-Mobile International predicted that the mobile internet will have a bigger revolutionary effect on people than that of the Internet itself.
US: Mobile Internet on the rise
Research from the American-based Opinion Research Corporation has pointed out that nearly 30% of Americans use their mobile phone to access the Mobile Internet. On that visit, 3 out of 4 use mobile search. For this mobile search they use mostly the same search engines as they use on the Internet. The functions mostly used on the Mobile Internet are maps/route descriptions, weather forecast and local information.
Although 30% might be an exaggeration, it does indicate that Mobile Internet is on the rise.
The Netherlands: standardization and higher accessibility
The Dutch mobile operators are working together to stimulate the use of the Mobile Internet in The Netherlands. While they used a very protective policy for their mobile portals before, they are now opening it up.
Until recently, these mobile portals created their own environment and avoided linking to mobile sites outside that environment. The operators have now realised that users want to surf around and when given this possibility, will use the Mobile Internet more and will therefore also spend more.
To stimulate surfing on the Mobile Internet, all operators have decided to offer this at a fix rate. A mobile user pays around 10 euro per month to have unlimited access to the Mobile Internet.
Another change is the standardization of the URL for mobile sites, which will have the standard format mobiel.brandname.nl. This easily solves an important issue for the Mobile Internet (‘How to find the URL of a mobile site?’) and is quite an example for other countries.