Mobile is exploding

We have talked about this before but more facts have come to light regarding the explosion of mobile data traffic, signaling a substantive change in how the world accesses information. In the Rise of mobile and the death of the rest the focus was on the business risks and opportunities coming from the rise of mobile computing.

Just yesterday, in an article in MIT’s Technology Review there was even more evidence of the rise of mobile.  The article, titled Four Charts That Illustrate the Transformation of Personal Computing was a summation of a Mary Meeker of KPCB presentation on the state of the internet (slide share embedded above).

The MIT article had one chart (see slide 15 above in Mary’s deck) that showed mobile internet traffic in November 2012 was 13% of all internet traffic which grew from a base level of ~1% in Dec 2009.  So in roughly 3 years, mobile traffic is consuming over 13X more internet bandwidth than any other type of device.

Just in case you needed more convincing, in another article in MIT Technical Review (this one on spectrum sharing) Cisco was quoted as saying that mobile traffic would grow 18X by 2016.

If mobile’s winning, who’s losing?

That has got to be desktop computing.  In fact, another chart (slide 16 in Mary’s deck) showed a comparison of India’s internet traffic tracking desktop vs mobile devices, from December 2008 to November 2012. In this chart India’s mobile internet exceeded desktop traffic sometime the middle of this year.

But I think the one chart that tells this better (see one slide 25) shows that smartphones and tablets shipments exceeded desktops and laptops in 2010.  The other interesting thing is that one can also see the gradual decline in desktops and laptop shipments since then.

Where’s the revenue streams?

The funny thing about Mary’s presentation is the fact that she was tracking mobile app and mobile advertising (see slide 17) as a rising revenue opportunity, expected to reach $19B in 2012.  In my post on the rise of Mobile, I assumed that mobile advertising would not be a successful model for mobile revenue streams – I was wrong.

Mary’s presentation also showed some of the impact of mobile on other markets and foretells the future impacts mobile will have. One telling example for this is standalone camera sales vs mobile camera shipments (see slide 32) which crossed over in 2008 where standalone camera sales peaked at~150M units. The same thing happened with standalone personal navigation devices (PND)  (see slide 34) that peaked 13M units in 2009 but where Waze unit (mobile navigation aid) exceeded PND unit shipments in Q1 2012.

The remainder of the presentation (at least what I read) seemed to define a new life-style option she called Asset-Light which was all about shedding physical assets like wallets, paperback books, TV and other screens, fixed LAN connectivity and moving to a completely mobile world where everything you need is on your tablet with access to the internet via WiFi or LTE.

Mobile is here, better get ready and figure out how to do business with it or consider this a great time to curtail your growth prospects.


The rise of mobile and the death of rest

Read a couple of articles this week about the rise of mobile computing.  About a decade ago I was at a conference where one of the keynotes was on the inevitability of ubiquitous computing or everywhere computing.  I believe now that smart phones have arrived, we have realized that dream.

How big companies die

One article I read was from Forbes on Here’s why Google and Facebook might disappear in the next 5 years.  The central tenet of their discussion was that the rise of mobile is a new paradigm shift just like Web 1.0 and Web 2.0 emerged over time and reinvented most of the industries that went before them.

Most companies around before the internet were unable to see and understand what would constitute a viable business model in the new Web 1.0 environment. Similarly, the major players in Web 1.0 never really saw the transition that occurred to a more interactive, information sharing that became Web 2.0.

The problem is that all these companies grew up in the reigning paradigm of the day and became successful by seeing the transition as a new way of doing business. They just couldn’t conceive that another way of doing business was coming along that was strategically different and thus, highly damaging to their now outdated, business models.

Full speed ahead

But it even get’s worse. Another article I read from Tecnology Review was titled Questions for Mobile Computing.

One interesting tidbit is that time it’s taking to reach a certain adoption level in the market is shrinking. The chart (from Apple) showed that both the iPhone and iPad has drastically shrunk the time it took to attain high market adoption.

Mobile business models

The main question in the article was how web 2.0 advertising revenue business models were going to translate into a mobile environment where they no longer controlled advertising.  Many Web2.0 companies seem to be ignoring mobile at the moment but it won’t take long for companies focused on this new computing tsunami to roll over them.

Apple and Google have taken two distinctly divergent approaches to this market but at least they are (massively) engaged.  That’s more than can be said for some of the web 2.0 properties out there ignoring mobile to their long term detriment.

The fact is that mobile is a new computing platform.  It’s possibilities are truly extraordinary from mHealth (see my post on mHealth taking off in Kenya) and  mCurrency today to Google glasses of tomorrow.

I strongly believe that those companies that see this shift now and go after it with new business models to profit from mobile computing will succeed faster and mightier than we have ever seen.   The rest will be left in the dust.

The funny bit is that it’s not the developed world that’s taking the new model to new directions but the developing world.  They seem better able to see mobile computing for what it is, an relatively easy way to leapfrog from the 19th century to the 21st in one jump.

So what are profitable business models that leverage mobile computing?