Suddenly, now here in the pretty huge ball room at the Web 2.0 conference, I'm realizing that this "little 30 minute talk" is a bit more than I was expecting when I accepted Rael's invitation to be on the Mobile Web panel. From past experience in this sort of thing I'm either going to freeze solid, or talk non-stop like a maniac. For those of you who look up my weblog while I'm on the panel, I apologize in advance for either of the above.
We'll see how the conversation goes, but I'd like to try convey the sheer numbers of mobile users already (1.5 billion) and the opportunity this presents to developers of next generation web services. 20 phones are being sold per second world wide. This creates a ubiquity which is the key to understanding the significance of this new technology. The societal changes when everyone you know has a connected computer in their pocket is incredible.
Not only this, but to this mostly American audience, I want to try to communicate that the opportunity to build these services has arrived even in the U.S. 60% of Americans have cellular phones and that number is going to continue to rise by large percentages. I think that predictions of only 70% penetration by the end of 2005 are *way* to conservative. We've reached a tipping point here. (I know this because my parents are talking about buying a mobile now... this is a pretty astounding turn of events).
Not only are the numbers there (160 million Americans with mobile phones), but every American carrier has reasonably priced unlimited data plans. DoCoMo introduced their unlimited dataplan earlier this year and they've got over 1.5 million subscribers accessing services that way, and they and KDDI are adding over 150,000 new subscribers a month. Those sorts of numbers are coming to the U.S. as well, and I expect more subscribers than this actually because that's how we think about internet usage from 10 years of using the Internet. This gives the U.S. a huge advantage over other markets around the world which continue to charge by the kilobyte.
The Valley needs to wake up to this opportunity. If you're PayPal - you need to have a mobile payment scheme out there. If you're Amazon, your web site needs to work perfectly on mobile phones. If you're a startup, there's tons of opportunity out there to take advantage of this new mobile market and become the Google of the mobile web. Everyone was going *nuts* in 1998/1999 talking about the economies of scale that the web would bring and then the numbers of internet users was only about 300 million. The numbers of cellular subscribers worldwide dwarf this number, and over the next few years each and every one of those mobile phones will be upgraded to handsets capable of advanced wireless data services.
It's 1994 all over again in the Web 2.0 - the opportunities are the big and that exciting. There are investors and analysts on stage now talking about how we'll never see another tech bubble again. I really don't think they realize what's coming.
Yeah... if I get all that out, I'll be lucky. ;-) Wish me luck.