Report: Mobile Phones To Be Primary Means Of Accessing The Internet In 2008 - InformationWeek

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12/17/2007
10:19 AM
Eric Ogren
Eric Ogren
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Report: Mobile Phones To Be Primary Means Of Accessing The Internet In 2008

M/C Ventures is predicting that 2008 will see more people access the Internet via their mobile phones than via desktops or laptops. That's globally. In the developed world, PCs will still be the primary means of access. But in developing regions, most Internet use will come from mobile phones, helping to bridge the digital divide.

M/C Ventures is predicting that 2008 will see more people access the Internet via their mobile phones than via desktops or laptops. That's globally. In the developed world, PCs will still be the primary means of access. But in developing regions, most Internet use will come from mobile phones, helping to bridge the digital divide.M/C Ventures' report details the growing importance of connectedness, and looks specifically at the way people are using mobile phones to gather information.

Said James Wade, managing general partner, M/C Venture Partners: "Mobile broadband is becoming the medium to bridge the digital divide worldwide. Many people in the world, even developed economies, don't have regular, affordable access to the Internet for a variety of reasons, but mobile phones and the business models around them are profitably penetrating even the low-income sectors of the economy. Now more than ever, people of many means can use mobile phones to enable their lives. Quite simply, mobile broadband will democratize communications."

This point is probably worth an entire blog post on its own, but there are more on M/C's list of predictions for 2008 that I'd like to take a look at.

Here is the rest of M/C Ventures' list:

2. Consolidation will continue to be a driving force in the telecommunications services industries. 3. Network service providers will increase their usage of fiber-based infrastructure significantly. 4. T1s going the way of the dinosaur. 5. The square footage of quality network hub locations (commercial data and collocations centers, Internet exchanges, proprietary hosting centers) will increase sharply. 6. Telephony solutions will morph into managed services for the enterprise. 7. Wireless ushering in the 'second coming of broadband'. 8. Consumers are increasingly valuing safety and security on their mobile devices, helping to support the carrier's "walled garden" for mobile media. 9. New seeds of application and network device innovation will be planted for future years. 10. Network service providers will become key pillars of product and service innovation in 2008.

Most of these are fairly general and hard to disagree with, but there are several I'd like to call attention to.

First, that wireless is ushering in the second coming of broadband. Broadband is slowly reaching a saturation point in the United States, but it still has some way to go. The use of wireless broadband is an altogether different story. Enterprises and consumers alike are using wireless broadband in their offices and homes in the form of Wi-Fi, but what I think is really going to grow in importance is the uptake of wireless wide-area networks, or WWANs.

With 3G data networks increasing their coverage every day, more businesses will take advantage of the power of mobile broadband. M/C Ventures notes that rural areas will see more benefit here than urban areas. I would say this relies a lot on the success of WiMax, which is a WWAN technology. Clearwire is delivering more connectivity to more rural markets, but it has a long way to go if it wants to have a serious impact. Sprint's own WiMax venture, on the other hand, is being concentrated not in rural areas, but urban centers like its test markets in Chicago and Baltimore-Washington, D.C.

Also, I am going to have to disagree with number 8. While it is true that people want reliable devices and services that will work when they need them most and not be open to attack, we have to consider this. The coming openness of Verizon's network as well as Google's Android platform is going to usher in a new level of awareness of what mobile services there are off the carriers' respective decks. This will work against the walled garden.

Closely related to this point is M/C's last prediction, that network service providers will be the key pillars of innovation next year. The carriers are the last companies I'd think of on a list of innovators. Most often, it is small companies that think up and develop innovative services that the carriers later buy or offer up as their own branded service. I think it's important to note that the real change in 2008 will come more from the carriers' different frame of mind, rather than from the actual labs of the carriers.

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