The unfolding opportunity in mobile

At the Web2.0 Summit in San Francisco a couple of weeks back Mary Meeker gave a presentation which included the three slides below that show there will be a huge opportunity in mobile over the coming years and attempt to predict where within mobile that opportunity will fall as the mobile wave evolves.

In a nutshell she argues that the mobile is the next big computing wave, that each wave is 10x the size of the previous wave and that the opportunity for startups withiin each wave runs in the same order – infrastructure, software/services, content, commerce.

I went back to this deck two weeks after the event because I have been scratching my head looking for the opportunity in mobile at the moment.  Obviously there is a heck of a lot going on, but most of the activity seems to be in either really big companies (Apple, Google, HTC) or in companies that are hits driven or may not scale to venture size (e.g. iPhone app developers).

My instinct has been to look for consumer oriented apps/services and maybe platforms but I haven’t come across much of interest.  Maybe I should be looking a level or two deeper in the network.

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The whole presentation is embedded below.  There is a lot of great data, but in particular I would point to the pace of mobile adoption (slide 33), the prediction of a 2010 inflexion point for 3G (slide 35), the falling importance of carrier decks (slide 46), and the 66x projected growth in mobile IP traffic by 2013 (slide 55).

 

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  • While there might be 100k iPhone apps out there, what it might boil down to is everyone of us using just a few of them on a regular basis. Initially we check out hundreds, then the novelty effect goes away. Same applies to mobile websites, we might end up only some of them regularly. These selected few instances will then decide on what else we use.

    The big question is, which are the selected golden ones? Is it the mobile OS itself – directing us to applications? Is it just the browser – and its bookmarks? Or apps running inside the browser instead of the OS level? Is it one of the applications – and it's sub-sections? Is it a mobile portal site or GSM operator homepage? All of them have their chances of winning big and losing big. Which layer of these will be the real platform?

    Facebook app on mobile might make it huge. So could some Twitter clients like Tweetdeck or just pure e-mail programs, just because people use them often. We have not seen too many of mobile portals now, but they should be coming (in Europe could be country specific).

  • That is kind of my point. It is hard to know which if any of the apps will make it big, but maybe there is opportunity at the infrastructure level.

  • One of the big opportunities seems to be mobile+social+real time. A great example of this type of business is foursquare. They have delivered a differentiated, engaging service which could have real utility and is naturally viral. There should be other opportunities in that triangle.

  • Good point Henry. I have been a little sceptical about the potential scale of businesses based on a single app like Foursquare, but I should think again given the success Foursquare is enjoying.

  • One of the big opportunities seems to be mobile+social+real time. A great example of this type of business is foursquare. They have delivered a differentiated, engaging service which could have real utility and is naturally viral. There should be other opportunities in that triangle.

  • Good point Henry. I have been a little sceptical about the potential scale of businesses based on a single app like Foursquare, but I should think again given the success Foursquare is enjoying.

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