The mobile Internet is in trouble. It's hard to escape that conclusion when a well known analyst -- Yankee Group president and CEO Emily Green -- says that it "pretty much sucks."
Actually, the prime topic of this InternetNews story from the first Mobile Internet World conference last week in Boston was a speech by Tim Berners-Lee. Lee is the director of the World Wide Web Consortium and is called the father of the Web so often that it seems like part of his official title. Lee expanded on Green's eloquence by saying that people are reluctant to move from proprietary formats and protocols to explore new vistas. He said, according to the story, that new standards, "contextual" content, location-based platforms and "user awareness" -- which probably refers to presence -- will improve the mobile Internet.
Green's eloquence also is expanded upon in a Yankee Group study, "Mobile Internet Utopia: Imagine if Supply Could Satisfy Demand," that was released at the conference. The release on the study said that the mobile Internet "should already be" worth $66 billion per year, but has only reached $9.5 billion. Indeed, the firm says that even the $66 billion figure is conservative because it only refers to access revenues.
Whether the mobile Internet closes that gap or not is by no means certain. Clearly, there are many attractive applications and platforms available. This post at BizznTech, for instance, describes five: Gmail Java applications for mobile phones; Google Maps for Mobile; Opera Mini; Fring and ShoZu. During his remarks, Berners-Lee demonstrated a GPS-enabled watch that also monitors heart rates.
A commentary at TelecomTV looks optimistically at recent announcements in the mobile Internet arena. The biggest news, he says, is Android from Google. The piece outlines what the company is doing, but says that a couple of issues -- changes in the landscape likely before it is ready and the questions about the strength of Linux-based system -- could limit its impact.
Our sense is that we are at a crossroads. There is no doubt that the Mobile Internet will generate a lot of money -- indeed, even the paltry $9.5 billion noted by Yankee is a lot. The InternetNews piece refers to "the long tail," the idea that applications from many little providers will add up to great bundles of revenue. One question is whether this model will work -- we worry about technologists' mastery of economic theory -- or whether a "killer app" is needed. The more basic question, however, is if these and other applications will appeal to non-geeks.