Friday, June 29, 2007

Mobile Internet is like what Internet used to be 10 years ago

For me the key points of similarity between the web in 1997 and the mobile internet today are:

- Narrow bandwidth
- High latency
- Browser wars
- Network operators trying to own the value chain, the same way ISP portals trying to own the value chain at one time
- Geeks going crazy about it and the rest of the world not knowing what its - look at the scepticism today from many quarters about whether mobile advertising can work
- Poor and lack of rich media content
- Poor user experience
- High data transmission cost

Noting the parallels in stage of development is not to deny the important differences between mobile and the wired internet. The complexity deepens with heterogeneity of devices and OS’s, plus the small screen and limited input capabilities make mobile more difficult, whilst the fact that it is always on, always with you (i.e. mobile), has a camera and knows your location give it extra dimensions of potential.

The tipping point on the wired internet came when broadband hit critical mass in terms of penetration and I believe and envision that it will probably be the same on mobile. While the road ahead seems positive and rosy, its definitely not a bed of roses. Its going to be a long and tough journey with lots of trials and errors before coming up with another Google's recipe of success. While some startups will strike it big but many would not just like how the rest of the dot com failures had succumbed.

Timing is everything for young startups and I believe its about time. Moving forward with the right business model, with the right people and most importantly with lots of passion and self determination, some of you may end up the next Google on mobile.

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