Saturday, September 6, 2008

Mobile Services

From my Ask the Expert September Column

By Mark Hewitt

Last month the European Union (“EU”) funded the MUSE project, which stands for Multi-Service Access Everywhere; George Lucas funded the Media Lab “Content Anywhere, Anydevice, Anytime” at USC; and “BT” British Telecom acquired Ribbit for $105 million.

To understand how all of these events relate, you must understand the increasing demand for mobility and a ubiquitous method of accessing content. I define this convergence broadly as “Mobile Services” and as a natural extension of early generation Mobile VoIP services.

It is also important to understand how Mobile VoIP came into being. First came the pain of different platforms from different carriers, each creating “Walled Gardens” making the lives of consumers even more complex. This was followed by early Mobile VoIP providers creating products that connected “Islands”, or individual “Walled Gardens”, into a common broadband platform.

I believe 2008 will be recognized as the year of the “birth” of Mobile Services, which have evolved as a direct result of changing technology and consumer behavior. People have a basic need to be connected, and Mobile Services represent the evolution of a Mobile EcoSystem linking political and economic borders of former generations of Mobile Networks.

Evolving networks promise ubiquitous broadband access anywhere. While full realization of those promises is still years in the future, today’s Mobile EcoSystem offers network and application providers a framework to deliver a range of products, from critical business and medical applications to current weather and sporting events, across a broad range of mobile devices.

To realize just how important this Mobile Services EcoSystem is to our future success, take a look at the forecasts for increasing penetration of “mobility” in the world:

Table 1. Mobile Penetration 1998~2008

1998 2008 2018 (estimated)
Mobile Penetration
Global 5% 55% 96%
China 2% 48% 99%
India 1% 28% 82%

3G Penetration 0% 18% 90%
Networks Speeds < 50Kbps < 2Mbps < 1Gbps

Smartphone Penetration 1% 10% 40%
Battery Life 2 hours 2.5 hours 24 hours

You can see by this forecast of worldwide mobile penetration that the mobile platform becomes the dominate method for accessing information, services, and content. The improvement of battery life, networks, and cross network service platforms all make this possible.

Thus is born the Mobile Services EcoSystem

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