Surprise! The Final Mile Does Not Involve Broadband
Twenty five years ago, one generally had to find a pay phone to make a call from the road, because mobile phones were nonexistent. For all the talk of cloud computing, the computer and broadband access lag far behind the mobile phone as the world’s primary communication device.
According to ITU, 90% of the world’s population presently has access to cell phone signals, with 60% of the world’s population actually subscribing to mobile phone service today. According to United Nations’ research and Gartner, there will be 5.8 billion mobile subscribers by 2013, of which almost 1/3 will be smart phones. Mobile phones are a ginormous, multi-purpose platform for communication and information.
Let’s put that in perspective. Gartner’s reports indicate there are presently about 1 billion installed PC’s worldwide. With a PC growth rate of 12 – 15% annually, it will take until 2015 to reach 2 billion installed PC’s. In other words, in the future, cell phones will outnumber PC’s by 3:1.
So what does this mean? While important, computers are not the best way to reach global masses. Cell phones are the device of choice to facilitate communications, deliver information and promote commerce. Thus, it is inevitable that cell phone applications will grow exponentially and those applications that are helpful and attractive, regardless of geographic borders, will rule. Some examples of these applications involve language translation, global e-commerce, music and entertainment.