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Saturday, November 24, 2007

A Phone is a Phone is a Phone....

Surveys by Yankee Group, a Boston research firm, show that only 13 percent of cellphone users in North America use their phones to surf the Web more than once a month, while 70 percent of computer users view Web sites every day.

In 2000, the wireless application protocol was supposed to bring the Internet to the cellphone. It turned out to be a flash in the pan, due to lack of high-speed cellular data networks. Now after a frenzied and costly effort to build third-generation, or 3G networks, 3G is called “a failure” by analysts – they say data would make up only 12 percent of average revenue per user in 2007, far below the expected 50 percent. (The 12 percent figure does not include text messaging, but you don’t need a 3G network to send a text message.)

I remember engaging in a blog debate over this. When the basic feature of call-drops are not being addressed by carriers, how can they get subscribers to pay for add on features like mobile web surfing (an annoying experience given the smallness of mobile screen size and truncated format) – I argued.

Today I saw this NYT report and feel vindicated…
“People talk about the mobile Web, and it’s just assumed that it’ll be a replica of the desktop experience,” says Nathan Eagle, a researcher at MIT. “But they’re fundamentally different devices.” He thinks that the basic Web experience for most of the world’s three billion cellphones will never involve trying to thumb-type Web addresses or squint at e-mail messages. Instead, he says, it will be voice-driven. “People want to use their phone as a phone,” he says.

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Blogger Bipin Preet Singh said...

No doubt PC and cellphone are fundamentally different devices. Convergence ,however, has been a strong driver for communications and computing for some time now (Think of WiMax and Wi-Fi for PC). I don't think a good balance has been found till now. But I don't see any reason why it won't be found in the future either. iPhone is definitely a step in the right direction. Surfing on mobile can never match the experience of surfing on the web. However, the superior connectivity advantages of a mobile device will make certain kind of web usage ( email,chat, social networking) more amenable to mobile devices. As the article points out, companies like InfoGIN can play a crucial role here.

3G is changing the rules of the game at least in Europe. Last announced results of Vodafone show a much higher percentage of revenue from data(non-sms) usage. Mobile TV is also being experimented. I think North America is fundamentally behind Europe both on 3G deployment as well as the carriers' interest to push for greater data usage.

India will be an interesting case with 3G expected to roll out in 2008. From what I understand, Vodafone should steal a march ahead of others. Wireless internet through GPRS already contributes close to 80% of unique internet user traffic in India( Source:TRAI).

11:07 PM  
Blogger Krish said...


Thanks for stopping by.

Future of course holds great promise for technology - both for mobile devices and notebooks. Just that it shouldn't compromise on the basic features; Voice (for phones) and screen experience/storage(for notebooks/desktops).

Overlay anything on a phone. Make sure the calls connect to complete:)

1:04 AM  

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