By Seth Kaplan
RISMEDIA, February 22, 2010—During the last four weeks we have looked at the evolution of the cell phone from a functional utility to a cultural phenomenon and discussed how over the course of the last 10 years we have gone from struggling to find a cell signal to sending hundreds of billions of text messages per month. Our mobile devices never leave our side and the evidence shows that has caused a shift in the way we communicate—making mobile truly the medium the of the moment.
Simultaneously, during the same four-week period out in the real world, two events have taken place that will undoubtedly alter the way the world’s economy and infrastructure operate in the years to come; The World Economic Forum and the Mobile World Congress.
The World Economic Forum took place recently in Davos, Switzerland (January 26-31). CBS’ 60 Minutes did a feature on the forum in which they stated, “Nowhere in the world can such a concentration of power be found than at the World Economic Forum.” A few of the heads of state and captains of industry in attendance included President Bill Clinton, computer tycoon Michael Dell, Queen Rania Al Abdullah of Jordan and Google CEO Dr. Eric Schmidt. What surprised me was not who attended this premier who’s who event, but that just two weeks later (February 15-18) in Barcelona, Spain, both Queen Rania Al Abdullah and Google CEO Eric Schmidt were in attendance again for the Mobile World Congress – as key note speakers.
Seemingly what occurred at Mobile World Congress mirrored that of The World Economic Forum; leaders across industry gathering in one place to share ideas, discuss innovation, and most importantly make deals and headlines. I had the opportunity to watch all 74 minutes of Google CEO Schmidt’s keynote address, and let me tell you, he sure made headlines! Some of them that stand out in my mind (and which are relevant to our previous Monday Morning Mobile topics) include, mobile phones that can now “see, hear and speak” are more like “Cyborgs” than phones (in a good way).
Dr. Schmidt stated that smart phone sales are growing 30% year over year, in only three years (or less) smart phone sales will surpass global PC sales, mobile web adoption is proceeding eight times faster than the equivalent point 10 years ago for the desktop, and in emerging countries, there are more Google searches made on mobile devices than on desktops. That is impressive.
Perhaps the biggest deal to come out of Congress was the Verizon Wireless-Skype announcement, signaling a shift in the wireless carrier’s stance on VoIP, and, in my opinion, one that makes sense. According to Skype CEO Josh Silverman, 12% of all international calls are already made over Skype and by making it as easy to make a Skype call as a mobile call they expect to see explosive growth by going mobile.
For the carrier, this plays right into where everything is already heading, increased revenue through data, not voice, as people are making less and less traditional phone calls.
On the other hand, the biggest headline could be from a company who wasn’t at either one of these meetings. Apple announced that it will take measures to block location-based advertising within apps for the iPhone, iTouch, and iPad. This could have ramifications on the real estate industry and the ability to use GPS applications to advertise properties for sale within the area of the end user.
At the close of his key note address, Google CEO Schmidt responded to a question about Google stealing minutes from operators by asking “isn’t SMS stealing your talk minutes because people are SMS’ing rather than talking? We should embrace it and try to use it to make money together.” I agree completely: let’s embrace this popular technology and use it in a way that helps us promote our businesses and connect with new clients. As the meeting of the moment came to a close Dr. Schmidt ended with this—my favorite headline of all—“Mobile is pretty much the answer to everything!”
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Monday Morning Mobile: The Meetings of the Moment