I think it’s time to stop using the term “mobile Internet”. In the early days of mobile Internet services, these were in WAP or similar formats, and usually within a separate universe compared to ordinary online Internet services. With increased bandwidth and capacity of the mobile devices the mobile and online versions have gradually converged. Today most content accessed through the mobile is technically integrated with the online web platforms, but often adjusted to the limitation of the mobile.
The mobile has become an additional access point to more or less any Internet service. We are referring to services “in the cloud” independent of access point and ordinary web services are increasingly viewed directly on more advanced phones such as the iPhone, parsed into a more mobile friendly format or through an app. What is then the difference between the “mobile Internet” and Internet? Well, there’s actually no difference as it is all one and the same Internet accessed and viewed through the computer, the mobile or, soon also to a high extent, the TV. However, there is still a need to adjust the content depending on context and device where the computer probably will be the exception compared to other devices, as it’s the only one with a full size key board.
I remember the early hype regarding cloud computing within the computer and operator industries, this was the way to go and all the benefits were piled on top of each other in endless power point presentations. All wanted to become Application Service Providers etc. A lot of the thinking was of course right as it usually is, but the timing was wrong. Once again we have experienced that the take up comes later but then it’s in many aspects more pronounced and with a broader impact compared to what was expected. The impact of cloud computing is now widely recognised, as for instance this week’s cover of The Economist illustrates.
Cloud computing is today a given and it does dramatically change the business logic and balance within the software/computer/Internet industry. The triggers and drivers for the take off are not always the expected. The increased network capacity and low cost storage are for sure key enablers for services in the cloud. Initially the limited need for local computing capacity was seen as a major benefit opening up for cheaper computers, but as prices anyhow rapidly went down this has not really been a driver. I would say that the key drivers from a user perspective are good, convenient and easy to use services giving end user value in relation to the cost. The end user does not care about the technology and if the service is within the cloud or not, as long as it delivers.
We now see mobile services moving into the cloud. How will this change the game and will it experience that same development phases as was seen for the computer services? There are similarities for sure, but some quite important differences. Most services that now show significant increase in the mobile environment have been used since long on the computer. The mobile is not a totally new media in that respect but rather a new access point to existing services. The mobile environment is unfortunately quite complex with many different operating systems etc. Mobile phone capacity when it comes to computing and storage will be a limiting factor for mass market devices for quite some time. In this aspect cloud computing may be even more relevant in the mobile context compared to what it has ever been for the computers. We may now see a development where low end devices can make use of all types of Internet services.
Services and storage of data in the cloud will further drive the presently strong growth for mobile development and penetration. This is not anymore an expansion of what we so far have called “mobile Internet”, this is an expansion and an extension of the Internet. The mobile Internet as a separate parallel universe will now die and Internet will with its mobile access become ubiquitous – at last. This development will change how we access and relate to Internet, also when still using the computer.