Mobile Web Bad, Mobile Data Good?

Mobile Web: So Close Yet So Far, a story in The New York Times gives US mobile web usage a B-minus grade. According to Rethink Research mobile web accounts for “12 percent of average revenue per user in 2007, far below the expected 50 percent” while Yankee Group says “only 13 percent of cellphone users in North America use their phones to surf the Web.” Terrible phones, puny network speeds and WAP browsers – no surprise that in a society where people lug laptops even on vacation, mobile web as outlined by NYT isn’t doing well.

merlinpccard.jpgIn sharp contrast, mobile data seems to be doing well for the US carriers. Here is what they have raked in from wireless data: $8.6 billion (2005), $15.8 billion (2006) and $17.7 billion for first three quarters of 2007. Assuming that the non-messaging data revenues are in the 50-60% (of the data revenues) range for the US carriers, that is pretty hefty growth.

A large push, one would guess is coming from the growing popularity of 3G cards, especially among the web worker/mobile worker crowd. There is anecdotal evidence things will change quite rapidly when we have mobile handsets with real browsers showing up in the sales isles. One such device is already showing its impact. I caught up with Omar Hamoui, Founder & CEO of AdMob, a mobile advertising start-up last week, and he said that over past 30 days the total share of traffic coming to their network from iPhone doubled from 0.4% to 0.8%. Google Maps usage went up after introduction of iPhone. Next year a whole slew of devices are coming to market situation will most certainly change.

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