A great post was written earlier this week at TechcrunchIT by Google executive Vic Gundotra regarding mobile statistics and trends entitled “Follow the Mobile User”. Vic Gundotra is Google’s VP of Engineering for Mobile and Developer Products.
The article shows a recent snapshot of the growth in mobile internet usage and discusses some of the key issues that have slowed its growth. Some of the reasons for slow growth are self-inflicted by the carriers themselves with oppressive rate plans and handset software control, but some are related to the fundamental usability of internet sites on mobile devices. The post reinforces other statistics we have seen on mobile internet growth and usage as well as many of our beliefs on today’s limitations of the mobile internet.
While the data and the post paint a great picture for our mobile business, it is possible that Google could be presenting an optimistic picture of the mobile landscape with their post. Google has a strong underlying reason to see the mobile internet grow and to create hype about it – it’s another place for them to create ad revenues, and very profitable ad revenues at that. Mobile ad revenues have the potential to be highly profitable because they can be location-aware. In other words, based on where you access the mobile internet, you will be targeted with ads that are specific to businesses in the immediate area. For example, imagine you are looking at the internet on your phone and seeing ads for businesses that located right across the street from you.
I am certain that Google will tap into the location-based capabilities of mobile devices to provide location-aware ads on mobile internet sites, especially as revenue from traditional (desktop) internet advertising tops out. Google will look to find additional sources of ad revenue to fund growth. For the local businesses, mobile advertising will be an extremely valuable medium and will be a lot more relevant to small businesses than advertising on the traditional internet where you have no idea where the customer is located. I see location-based advertising as one of the primary reasons why Google entered the handset operating system market with its Android operating system. I would not be at all surprised if the Android operating system does not already have, or will have, the capability to locate your mobile device to serve up targeted, local advertisements.
Regardless of Google’s intentions, statistics and information from many other sources are pointing to similar growth rates in mobile data plan subscriptions, smartphone sales, and mobile internet usage. I have to admit, I am a bit curious as to how businesses of all sizes will embrace the mobile internet. Will they treat it as an extension of their current website? Will they treat it as a separate medium? It will definitely be interesting, and fun, to see how the mobile internet evolves.