State of the Mobile Web – Mass Market Edition

mobile web

The Mobile Web. The “Year of the Mobile”. The next Killer App. Unlimted data and 4G.

Lots has been written and talked about the above, but where are they when you intercept a random person on the street?

If I ask most people, especially outside the valley, they use their phone to make calls and send text messages. Some use it to take pictures and listen to music. If they do not have an iPhone, most likely they have never installed an application on their phone. And asking people about a data plan is like asking a Prius driver about the horse power in their car.

Following are a facts and figures about the State of the Mobile Web, as well as a few highlights as to why we aren’t where we could be, and how we can reach mass market adoption – through the eyes of a company that lives “mobile” everyday – Nimbuzz :)

I am very happy about the fact that more people are on the mobile web and that the statistics are pointing to the top right.

Last month, more than 35.6 million people used Opera Mini, which serves over 500 million pageviews per day on average, up 11.5% compared to August 2009 and more than 150% compared to September 2008. At Nimbuzz we now have over 10 million users and 40,000 new user come on board from all over the world every day, so quite a few people use mobile apps in their daily life.

Why is not everyone using the mobile web?

Demand isn’t being created. Data plans are not being marketed the way your average voice plans are being advertised to you.

It is very confusing to get your head around why you need to pay more $ per month to an operator that already charges a you for an existing contract you have with them. Charges vary per megabyte or minute, there are size limits, or some 3rd party services are blocked.

Service providers don’t educate us about the possibilities of the mobile web. Even though they are making more revenue on data (e.g.: Verizon made 17.4% more than the year before), some of their networks still need to get upgraded to deal with mass market adoption.

Consumers, who already using the mobile web, often find it disappointing, according to a study. Encountering issues such slow loading times, even on a smart phone, over half of the surveyed users were frustrated to the point that they would never return to the site in question.

Mobile Web Expectations

Why is there no killer app yet (or is there)?

Because there isn’t enough mass-market traction, yet. That is not to say there aren’t any great apps out there.

Google Maps for example is something I recommend to anyone who can make use of the mobile web. Layar is a jaw-dropper that indicates where things are heading, and the iTunes App store is probably the best “app” for developers. There is also Nimbuzz of course, for all you hyper connected social media messengers out there ;)

But great apps need a great audience, not only iPhone, Android, and BlackBerry users.

So what needs to happen?

In order to get our killer apps, we need everyone to be using the mobile web and use apps on their mobiles. If everyone uses apps on a daily basis, quality increases and the most useful apps with the best UI will rise to the top. For that to happen,

  • unlimited data plans need to be more readily available and costs need to come down.
  • Network speeds and bandwidth need to increase so applications run smooth and reliable.
  • The mobile internet needs to be trusted and needs to be promoted.
  • Businesses need to create create a web presence that is optimized for the mobile experience so m-commerce can take off.

Market data is encouraging:

Annual mobile application downloads will hit 20 billion by 2014, according to Juniper Research. Everyday use cases based on mass market adoption will quickly define a core application set everyone “needs” on their phones.

The iPhone has worked wonders for mass market adoption and creating a demand for a more mobile lifestyle. Apple has changed the rules of the mobile ecosystem, focusing on software, not hardware manufacturers to dictate the future of mobile. Smartphone sales projections support the fact that there is increased demand for  more mobility – smartphones sales will overtake computers in 2011.

smartphone sales

Taking a look at Japan (check out slide 49), it becomes obvious that we have reached the stage where Japan was like in the year 2000, and looking at where Japan is now, with a mobile broadband penetration of 85% and a 3G penetration of 91%, we can see the needed building blocks for a mobile society.

At Nimbuzz we try our best to make our free mobile VoIP and social messaging application a mass market product that is accessible to everyone and drive demand. We support over 1000 types of mobile phones and every major mobile platform out there, and a  new user every 2 seconds clearly shows a strong demand.

Our research shows that 60% of our users made more friends since using Nimbuzz and 52% communicate more frequently, and 41% use the mobile web daily.

In the future, services will become more integrated and you will have apps that will do more than just one thing. They will also work in parallel with other applications and become much more integrated into the core features of our future phones, such as the address book, GPS, NFC. Applications will also work in the cloud, but I do not want to get into that at the moment.

What will then follow is m-commerce, something Japan has been pioneering. Once people use the mobile web on a daily basis to do their online banking, their Safeway and Amazon shopping, and Ebay auctions, you know the mobile web has actually taken off. Revenues will be made from mobile paid services, data access, and m-commerce. And where the $ is, the support will be :)

Thoughts are welcome in the comment section – thanks for digesting all this :)

4 Responses to “State of the Mobile Web – Mass Market Edition”

  1. Great article. I am an data plan user, since I’m mobile person mobile web is what I stand for. The main reason why people don’t use mobile web more is service provirders, at my country where I come from, providers are focused mostly on calls and texting(sms) within their own network to attract more customers. They restrict GPRS, EDGE and 3G usage by setting annormous prices(say it 5-10 USD per just 1 mb!) with main purpose to force people on buying USIM modems and sign 2-3 year contract with demand that you agree that they can change monthly fee as they wish. 3G coverage in here is almost 95%, but pricing is what really pushes of new mobile web users. Cause of that, I have SIM cards and data plans that don’t bellong to my countrys service providers just to evade their monopoly. I recently also asked friends that rarely use mobile web what stops them, and they mentioned same reason, I gave them advice how to solve that atleast a bit, and now they are happy data plan owners too. Another thing that stops mobile web to overtake is small screens on cell phones, thankfuly, we are facing touchscreen evolution, with smartphones getting more powerful and getting widely more addapted, so, that mobile web uprise is coming with splash in next years. Cloud based services WILL overtake aswell, cause mobility will be more stable then, but there is one serious problem to solve 1st, it’s cyber crime that is growing fast. Other 2 problems are same as I mentioned above. Anyway, Nimbuzz is by far great IM if not best. Few more additional functions will surely put Nim on top of all, hoping for that to come soon. Regards.

    Max October 28th, 2009
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