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Data: The Future of the Internet Looks Highly Mobile

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With every day that passes we become more convinced that the Internet in our hands aka on our mobile devices is going to define network usage and innovation. According to some estimates, the consumption of data on mobiles will near an exabyte by the end of 2009.

In less than four years almost three-quarters of the population will have access to mobile broadband, according to data released today by analyst firm Telegeography. The firm predicts that by the end of 2013 the addressable market for 3G and 4G cellular services will have grown to over 4.5 billion potential subscribers — or about 71 percent of all wireless subscribers.

And as I’ve noted, the mobile Internet platform is a greenfield opportunity for innovators. We plan to discuss many of those opportunities at our Mobilize 09 conference on Sept. 10 in San Francisco. (related research from GigaOM Pro: Will Google Lead the Way in Mobile App Innovation?.)

While we’re eagerly awaiting the next generation of 4G wireless services in the U.S., it can be hard to remember that China is just rolling out its 3G networks. But given the huge jump in data speeds offered by a 3G network when compared to a 2G network, as mobile broadband catches on, web access and computing becomes ever more mobile and ever more accessible.


The key issue will be getting people to sign up. As part of the same research, Telegeography expects only 28 percent of subscribers to actually connect to the faster services by 2013. TeleGeography’s Executive Director John Dinsdale says that the actual “take-up rates for 3G/4G services in 2013 will range from 25% of potential subscribers in Africa to 62% in Western Europe.”

20 Responses to “Data: The Future of the Internet Looks Highly Mobile”

  1. Let’s see.. from tech consumer perspective: I want internet everywhere, and I’m excited about the cloud, but I am afraid to sign to up because I think 1) the service will be slow 2) the service will be unavailable 3) and then the service will lock me into a contract. Right now I am in a “wait and see”… I’m letting friends sign up for mobile broadband and then gauging their natural reactions to it.

    • just wondering. are those friends supplementing or replacing wired broadband? what i am seeing are friends and acquaintances either replacing wired service or maybe they never had internet access before and are starting out with a wireless option. they also tend not to subscribe to either cable TV or landline phone service.

      the exception are my friend with very high end smartphones. although they tend not to care that much about 2.5g GPRS versus 3g HSDPA. they mostly want a super cool phone to carry around.

      anyways 3g in my circle is mostly about laptop and desktop connectivity through an alternative to the cable and landline guys. since i live in a cricket service area they really dominate the connection my friends use. they pay $35/month for unlimited that is sometimes throttled slower after 5GB but never any overage charge. no one seems to mind the slower speeds than dsl/cable very much. the lack of any contract more than compensates for the slower download and surfing speeds.

  2. Anthony Wang

    In 5-10 years, “mobile computing” will just be “computing.” Why carry a laptop when you just need an iPhone? As cloud apps get better, you’ll even be able to do heavier work from any browser, so no need to bring the hardware with you. Wow, Larry Ellison was right…

    That’s why Google is investing in Chrome OS and Android – they see this coming. They want to be the software platform for the next generation of computers, like Microsoft was for desktops and laptops.

  3. “The key issue will be getting people to sign up. As part of the same research, Telegeography expects only 28 percent of subscribers to actually connect to the faster services by 2013.”

    I don’t think getting people to sign up will be a major issue. One should not discount the possibility of these services going viral. When high-speed mobile data connections reach a certain critical threshold, there will be a big rush for everybody to sign up. For example, if 5 out of 10 of your immediate friends / peers / colleagues have such data connections, you might be more likely to sign up. I just pulled that 5/10 (50%) number out of the air. Not sure what the actual critical threshold will be, but it is certainly there.

  4. i completely agree that the internet is going mobile. but i do not think special ‘mobile devices’ will be as popular as many people do. once nearly every laptop ion the country has 3g/4g access i actually see people reverting to the full screen/keyboard experience and away from the tiny devices considered ‘mobile’