Mobile internet is here to stay, and our social lives — that is, how we interact with others, the content we consume, and the things we buy — will be indelibly shaped by its imminent ubiquity.
The Dawn of the Mobile Internet Era
Morgan Stanley’s Mary Meeker — the ‘Queen of the Internet‘ behind both Netscape‘s and Google‘s initial public offerings — recently provided research and insights into the upward trend of the mobile web and social networking.
Among her more startling predictions was that, within the next five years,
“…more users will connect to the Internet over mobile devices than desktop PCs.”
This trend, Meeker posits, marks the beginning of the fifth era of modern-day technology’s historical progression, roughly approximated below.
And, compared to the uptake of desktop internet usage, mobile internet usage is growing at a considerably faster rate. This rate, Meeker and her team suggest, is evidenced by the disparity between contemporary adoption rates of iPhone/iPod touch versus AOL/Netscape in the early 1990’s — a staggering 11x difference. This trend, Meeker et al. add, is enhanced by the rise of 3G technology, which is available to nearly 21 percent of the world’s cellular users. Japan leads 3g penetration levels with a breath-taking 96 percent.
Data Usage and a Shafting Landscape for Carrier Networks
Carrier networks, however, will face the challenge of dealing with increasingly cumbersome data loads, as mobile internet usage continues to rise. At present, Meeker’s research notes, average cell phone users’ usage patterns consist in roughly 70 percent voice. In contrast, iPhone users’ voice usage only comprises 45 percent of bandwidth usage. Carrier network NTT DoCoMo of Japan, which Meeker (and others) assume to provide the model for the mobile internet’s future, reports a significantly different pattern: data usage comprises 90 percent of network traffic.
By 2014, Meeker et al. predict, data traffic will increase by roughly 4,000 percent, with the expectation that each year the annual growth rate will exceed 100 percent. Some U.S. networks — namely, AT&T — are already encountering problems in highly populated areas (e.g., New York and San Francisco) due to increased data loads. The data logjam on their network, AT&T claims, is due primarily to iPhone users. Comprising only three percent of the AT&T’s customer base, iPhone users reportedly consume approximately 40 percent of the network’s capacity. And data loads look as though they’re only getting heavier. The next wave of smartphones look more hungry for data than ever.
The Next Wave of Smart Phones (in the Foreseeable Future)
What It Means for the Future of Content Production
That’s it for now, but I’d love to hear your thoughts on what the rise of the mobile internet means for other aspects of life — technology, media, culture, life or otherwise. Please provide comments below!0