Worldwide phone penetration continues to climb at a break-neck pace, with over 4 billion mobile subscribers at last count. (In comparison, the PC industry is forecasted to see its sharpest unit decline in history.) Prevailing economic conditions will accelerate this trend, as users consolidate pricey communication services into cost-effective, all-in-one mobile devices. And for the first time ever, half of all new connections to the internet will come from a phone in 2009.
Google’s mobile traffic reflects these milestones — having quintupled since 2007 — and it underscores users’ appetite for mobile data services. But as a community of operators, device manufacturers and software providers, we continue to get in their way. In short, and as a general rule, we make it too costly, too unfamiliar, and too difficult to do anything beyond voice calls.
In reply I offer up three suggestions: simpler data plans, better web browsers, and a smoother on-device experience. And in each case I’ll use Google traffic numbers as a proxy for total internet usage and user happiness.
Writing in TechCrunch IT, Vic Gundotra, Vice President of Engineering for Google’s mobile and developer products backs with evidence my submissions to the Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) community since 2004 that mobile phones will match the capabilities traditionally associated with PCs, especially when it comes to Internet and web usage.
In The future of Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) – Technologies to keep an eye on, I pointed to smartphones (iPhone in particular) as a device that will lead the transformation of the mobile web as it is known today into a single web, accessible seamlessly though mobiles and desktops.