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Mobile Broadband Will Trigger Global Innovation

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[qi:gigaom_icon_4G] People will consume an exabyte — that’s 1 million terabytes — of information on mobile networks this year, predicts independent wireless analyst Chetan Sharma in his latest report, entitled “Managing Growth and Profit in the Yottabyte Era.” (A yottabyte is 1,000 billion terabytes.)  Sharma notes that Verizon (s vz) reported more than 3,500 terabytes of traffic per month in 2008, a figure it says could explode to 4 million TB by 2014.

T-Mobile USA, meanwhile, has indicated that average mobile data consumption among its customers has shot up to 3.7 megabytes per user, per month, from just a few kilobytes a couple years back. That incredible growth in traffic will have to be managed by carriers if they want to maintain their profits.

But while Sharma notes that the growth in mobile broadband speeds will lead to more data consumption, what he doesn’t get into — but the chart below hints at — is that faster mobile broadband speeds will be the platform supporting the next generation of technology companies.

Ubiquitous, faster wired networks are what made Google (s goog) a true advertising and search powerhouse. After all, when it took forever for a page to load on a 56K modem, you didn’t go to a search page to look for movie listings or settle bar bets online. Plus, fewer broadband subscribers meant a smaller audience to monetize through search advertising.

Social networking has been another beneficiary of faster speeds and greater adoption. With 1 Mbps connections (or better yet, 5 Mbps) checking in on Facebook or even Twitter is a quick and easy process. Faster speeds have resulted in more video online as well, leading to the creation of companies such as YouTube, Hulu and even Skype. We’re going to see a similar trend emerge in the mobile world, with companies that use the faster network plus mobility as the platform on which to build their businesses. And since mobile broadband has the potential to reach more people, there’s potential for innovation to come from all over the world.


19 Responses to “Mobile Broadband Will Trigger Global Innovation”

  1. Thesis is Consistent with Previous Cycles of Technology-driven Innovation…

    In fact, the phrase “virtuous spiral” may be used to describe the self-reinforcing loop below:

    FASTER NETWORKS —> MORE POWERFUL CPUs —> MORE MEMORY —> MORE COMPELLING APPS —> FASTER NETWORKS —> etc. (this is clearer in a graphic depicting the cycle :) )

    I believe Intel first coined the phrase to describe the phenomenon that occurred with PC’s (processors > chipsets > memory > broadband > software > …) over the last two decades.

    I wouldn’t bet against Chetan’s thesis – my guess is we’re seeing the same phenomenon unfold in Mobile, and that it will occur more rapidly and on a much broader scale than we saw in PC’s.

    Phil Hendrix, PhD

  2. Stacey – I think the likes of Chetan Sharma will be blamed for sowing the seeds of the “Global Innovations BB, BS, etc” bubble.
    Om – Good time to start writing Broadbandits 2!

  3. i do not buy into the argument that higher speeds will drive major online innovation. i believe having the greatest possible number of users is the biggest pulling force toward innovative new mobile broadband services. having a greater number of users means needing lower subscription costs as well as a trade off in how bandwidth is allocated. every time total bandwidth doubles i would rather see number of users also doubling instead of double the speed for existing users.


    .. It’s not often that I am critical of Gigaom’s posts, but this one deserves it – a title like “mobile broadband will trigger global innovation” is too general. Nowhere in the article is there anything specific or hint at any specific kind of innovation. The references to Google etc. are way too banal. Please, if you are going to make a sweeping statement like “mobile broadband ….. innovation” at least stick your neck out and make a few specific predictions.