Friday, January 16, 2009

Mobile Internet to grow rapidly by next year

There are more than one billion Internet users around the globe, but a new study from ReportLinker said that number could be dwarfed by the amount of mobile Web surfers in a few years.

The report, titled "Mobile Internet 2010," said there are more than 4 billion wireless subscribers globally and many of these will be using their handset as the main Internet terminal. But in order for that potential to be achieved, the report said carriers need to boost their networks, and handsets makers need to do a better job of incorporating Web services into a phone's user interface.

Carriers have poured billions into deploying their 3G networks globally, and the adoption rate is picking up. By June 2008, there are more than 235 million WCDMA 3G subscribers, representing a 6.4% mobile penetration rate. Additionally, about 100 million subscribers used the EVDO 3G network. Increasing the coverage and availability of 3G data will lead to more mobile Web users, the report said.

Even with a large 3G footprint, users won't rapidly use the mobile Web unless there is a clear design that adds value to the customer, the report said. Handsets like the T-Mobile G1 and the HTC Touch Pro are examples of UIs that utilize an Internet connection for things like widgets, and one-touch Internet icons.

The mobile Web also has the potential to be a lucrative field if it can integrate location. By utilizing GPS, cell tower triangulation, or other means to utilize the user's presence could potentially lead to innovative services, as well as targeted advertising. Web advertising giant Google created the mobile operating system Android to capitalize on this potential, and the company sees a lucrative future with the mobile Web.

"The iPhone was the first mobile device with a good Web browser, and more such devices will follow," said Google (NSDQ: GOOG)'s CEO Eric Schmidt in an interview. "Advertising will then become very personal. In a few years, mobile advertising will generate more revenue than advertising on the normal Web."

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