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« The battle for my(voice)space | Main | Welcoming visitors from Carnival of Mobilists »

April 21, 2006


Uri Baruchin

While the mobile internet will become increasingly important for the reasons you mention, i don't see it passing the PC - As long as reading text and inputting it is so central to interactive experience, mobile phones will not become a major internet access interface as they don't provide a good experience at either.


An awful lot of statistics spouted here, but no references...

Tomi T Ahonen

Hi Uri and Kent

Thank you for visiting our blogsite and posting the comments.

Uri - I've been struggling with that very same idea for a very long time - I did start my career with the first ISP in New York City, and then was with Elisa Corporation in Finland where I did the world's first fixed-mobile service bundle (combining fixed telecoms services of Helsinki Telephone and Finnet, with the mobile telecoms arm of Radiolinja); and then joined Nokia right when the world's first pocket internet device - the Nokia Communicator - was launched. I worked in the Telephony Gateways unit which did digital convergence work, and my White Paper on Indirect Access was one of the first documents to describ how the internet could be put on mobile networks. Obviously each of my four books cover this topic in greater detail.

So I hear you. I have been over that road very very many times with colleagues from my internet past, from the convergence viewpoints and those from the biggest player in mobile telecoms.

And I would agree with you, that for those adults who can afford a PC, the PC-based internet is the much-preferred option (for now).

Note this leaves two significant "buts". First, there are three times as many mobile phone users as there are PC users. Most of the world is not as wealthy as you and I, who can access the web on a PC. Most of the world is too poor and cannot afford it. For that part - definitely the poorer people of the world will form the majority also of internet users within a few years - there is no "option" of a PC. It is either "clumsy" access via a mobile phone. Or else there is no access at all.

But an even more relevant point is the inevitable turn of the tide in favour of young people. The teenagers of today grew up playing playstations, using SMS text messaging on their mobile phones. They can send out text messages with the phone held in their pockets or under the table - unseen - with no problems. This new generation will inherit the internet. They will not see a need for a clumsy big public device like a PC, once they have their own jobs and can buy the smartphone that they have always wanted for their own internet use.

So Uri, I can safely agree with you for adults in the industrialized world. But for almost all of the whole of the third world a PC is not an option. And for young people, a mobile phone keypad is no obstacle of any kind, whatsoever.

Kent - I hear you. However, Alan Moore and I tend to write about once per day, reporting on the various matters as they occur. I have all of the other stats already covered either here at this blogsite or in our book (Communities Dominate Brands) or both. Like I mentioned the source of the single new statistic relating to this posting - Ipsos Research for 21 April, 2006 - you will find just by looking back at previous postings at our blogsite, each of the other stats I mentioned. I feel I write such long posts to begin with, I will not repeat all of the old stats every time. I hope you can appreciate that. If for any reason you do not find some stat that I mentioned, please tell me which one seemed to be lost, and I will also point you to that one.

Thank you for visiting our blogsite and posting !

Tomi Ahonen :-)

Uri Baruchin

thanks for that enlightening comment.

Dean Bubley

"a total of 28% of all mobile phone users access the internet with their phones"

Actually, the stat is "28% of mobile phone owners worldwide HAVE browsed the Internet on a wireless handset" - not do so regularly.

It reminds me of a conference a year ago, when a Nokia representative stood up and said something like "70% of MMS-enabled phone users have sent a picture message". Then someone in the audience asked "Yes, but how many have sent two?"

Tomi T Ahonen

Hi Dean

Thanks for the comment. I will agree that there will be a delay from first use, to regular use. And yes, that point between "tried it once" and "regular user" is a very relevant one - in the short term.

If you look at the actual economics of the equation, this point becomes moot. 25% of all paid internet access today is ONLY by mobile phone. PAID internet access. That is 250 million people who pay a monthly access fee to use the web via their mobile phone. Half or more of all internet access in China, Japan and Korea, is by mobile phone ONLY.

So yes, some are trying it, and then they start to get hooked onto it. And some will find the experience difficult the first time. If they are wealthy enough - or have a PC from work etc - they can go back to the PC based internet. But the mobile phone based web is getting ever better in terms of user interface.

When the mobile phone is the predominant access method - like in Japan and Korea - then also the exclusive powers of the phone can be capitalized.

Look at the clumsy user interface of the PC keyboard. If I want to go to a given blogsite or website, I have to enter the address by the very clumsy tool of the keyboard on the PC (like typing now). Wouldn't it be a million times easier if I could use the camera on the mobile phone and point to a fuzzy image on a page and get automatically connected. Without ANY typing of any kind.

If you go to Japan or Korea and look at billboards on bus stops and of print ads in magazines, just like in our Western ads there are web addressses - or something like that - in Japan and Korea there are the two-dimensional bar codes (the ones that look like square-shaped fingerprints). All you do is point your phone at that barcode, and you have the entry on your phone ! No typing !

This is the kind of innovation we are now seeing as the world transitions to the web on the mobile phone. It gets better. Same for all the 15 million mobile bloggers in Korea. No longer the very clumsy process we have in the West, of picture taking on a digital camera, transferring it via USB cable to the PC, then editing it in the picture software, then connecting to our web service, sign up to movable type or typepad to access our blogsite, then upload our picture. PAINFULLY CUMBERSOME.

In Korea you just snap a picture on your 3G cameraphone, and send to CyWorld, and your picture appears on your blogsite. Simple, elegant. This is the future when the majority of internet access is via mobile phone.

Thanks for writing Dean. I also replied to your longer comments at the Vodafone related posting.

Tomi Ahonen :-)

Linen Mania

On a side note, the dotMobi mTLD (mobile top level domain) has just been released and is in the sunrise registration period...the promise of dotMobi is to ensure that those sites with dotMobi extension will be tuned to mobile browsing...

one can expect a number of .mobi web sites - those that conform with standards for mobile browsing - to be online starting Oct 2006

More info on dotMobi can be found at - , this site also plans to start a dotMobi directory soon

Ec from Home of Home Textiles @

David Cushman

Tomi, sorry to drag this one up again - as you know I'm playing catch-up in this arena.
Seems to me the biggest 'failiing' at least of current mobiles is memory. Most PCs offers 160GB+. Most mobiles have to be upgraded to offer 1GB of card memory.
So, assuming all other aspects of the model are relatively accurate, I'd expect to see a growing demand for online storage facilities accessed on the mobile internet.
Offering this may be one way in which brands will be able to draw users to their other services? What do you think - is this something anyone is doing with strategic intent?

David Cushman

One more update: Tomi's prediction has to have come a step closer today with 3's announcment of fixed-price mobile internet access and a tie-up with skype, orb networks, ebay, google, yahoo et al. Orb answers my own question (above)

More here:

alan moore

cheers David and thanks for the update.

BTW where are you based?

Thanks for posting


David Cushman

Hi Alan, I'm at emap automotive (and active for mobile purposes) in Peterborough (UK)

Tomi T Ahonen

Hi David and Alan

Thanks for the comments and update, David. Good to see your comments here at our blogsite, every time. Yes, I agree, the fact that we have massive storage in our laptops and very puny storage ability (although a decade ago a gigabyte was an impressive amount of storage for a PC) does put limits to the mobile internet. It also "tilts" the service proposition more to network based services rather than those performed on the end-user device. But so is the recent phenomenon of user-generated content at social networking sites. We upload our clips and images for all to go and see. That model of storage fits naturally for mobile phones.

About Three, wow, great move! Thanks for mentioning it. I was heavily travelling last week and didn't really have the chance to comment on it then.

Thanks for writing David! And good luck with eMap Automotive, let us know whenever you guys release services, we'll want to know and blog about it.

Tomi :-)

el dorado

Good article.

Tomi T Ahonen

Thanks el dorado

Tomi :-)

aion kinah

About Three, wow, great move! Thanks for mentioning it. I was heavily travelling last week and didn't really have the chance to comment on it then.


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