A well-worn saying in the mobile industry is that people in emerging markets will likely experience the Internet first on the phone rather than a PC. Well, it appears that day is fast approaching, reports the WSJ. Interestingly, the evidence comes from well-known companies in the industry, such as Opera and AdMob. For instance, Opera, which provides a Web browser for the mobile phone, says its strongest customer growth is seen in places, like Indonesia, Egypt and Russia. Likewise, AdMob, a mobile advertising company, said it sends five billion ads to Internet-enabled mobile handsets each month, and two months ago, Asia overtook North America as its largest market. Tony Cripps, an analyst at Ovum, repeats the long-established theory: “For a lot of people in emerging markets, the mobile phone will be the primary way of accessing the Internet.”
The biggest driver of adoption is poor landline systems. For instance, in Indonesia, many areas don’t have broadband, and it’s even difficult to come by DSL lines or even phone lines for dial-up. And, with mobile operators increasing the speed of their networks, the mobile Internet is becoming an alternative, which people are finding is also cheaper than buying a PC or paying for home Internet service. As evidence, the WSJ said the number of high-performance mobile browsers on phones are expected to jump to 700 million by 2013 from 76 million last year. Annual revenues to browser makers from handset manufacturers for the installation of mobile browsers on cellphones are estimated also on an upwards trajectory, and expected to reach $492 million by 2013, says ABI Research.
If it’s true that this trend is gathering steam, and won’t be affected by a weak global economy, then the important thing to ask is who is positioned to benefit? Beyond the handset makers and the operators, it definitely also opens doors for content owners, such as entertainment, social networking companies and search providers. To name one, the article quotes a woman in Jakarta who uses her phone to access Friendster.
Photo Credit: Lars K. Jensen