The Mobile Internet Era Is Upon Us


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.

  1. 1950’s-1960’s: the mainframe era
  2. 1970’s: the mini-computer era
  3. 1980’s: the desktop era
  4. 1990’s-2000’s: the internet era
  5. 2010’s-: the mobile internet era

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

  • Advertising: The most important platform for reaching a captive audience will not be TV, e-mail or the (desktop) internet. Rather, it will be through mobile phones — and companies are catching on. Apple’s iAd will provide developers and agencies opportunities to deliver in-app advertisements. Google is hot on its tails with its attempted purchase of AdMob, but has encountered snags along the way.
  • Publishing: It’s  obvious that big publishers are well on their way to taking their content live on the mobile internet. In the near future, do-it-yourself mobile content publishing programs like Maxdox and full-service companies like PressMart will provide publishers — both small and mid-sized — the tools they need to bring their content into the mobile internet era. This point doesn’t take into account the imminent increase in usage of various online publishing platforms like YouTube, Facebook and Twitter.
  • Virtual Goods: With nearly $600m in revenue and $1 per average user engagement, FarmVille’s continued success has proven that virtual goods are no longer a trend relegated to the Far East. And both Foursquare‘s and Gowalla‘s location-based apps center their models on rewarding users with virtual honors like ‘badges’ and other rewards, sometimes in exchange for real rewards. With the rise of upstarts like Booyah and an ever-growing potential base of users, virtual goods are becoming an unforeseen form of content that is certainly a force to be reckoned with, given it’s significant revenue generation and popularity.

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!

See this post re-blogged on Wall St. Cheat Sheet, Jack: a Blog about Experience Brands (Jack Morton Worldwide’s blog), and Point About.



  1. that's really no surprise. People want a small, easily manegable computer (laptop) that they can carry around in their pockets, take out it out, type on it, check e-mails, watch videos, and make phone calls, so it was inevitable that mobile internet (and smartphones) will become more popular than regular internet. the iPad might cause a splash with that, I guess. people are already demanding for smaller, sleeker laptops, but I bet in a few years, laptops might become obsolete (unless you're a designer, filmmaker, artist, businessperson, etc... laptops/desktops will always be essential).

    I dont have a smartphone (does a Sidekick LX count?) and I HATE mobile internet on my Sidekick. it's slow, annoying and usually drains the battery power life, I prefer to surf the net on my laptop and I LOVE my laptop. plus I cannot play videos-- except youtube-- on my Sidekick, but I'd like to watch Dailymotion , Hulu, and other video sharing websites on my Sidekick.

  2. TomPier

    May 4, 2010
    / Reply

    great post as usual!

  3. Derek Flanzraich

    May 4, 2010
    / Reply

    Where's the mobile web at? Awesome sum-up post by @StevenDuque

  4. Mobile Internet Era Is Upon Us - Future Content will be on Mobile Phones (@StevenDuque via @mikecane) -

  5. Aaron Tay

    May 5, 2010
    / Reply

    RT @ericrumsey: Mobile Internet Era Is Upon Us - Future Content will be on Mobile Phones (@StevenDuque via @mikecane)

  6. Lisa Craig-Young

    May 5, 2010
    / Reply

    RT @aarontay; @ericrumsey: Mobile Internet Era Is Upon Us: Future Content will be MobilePh.(@StevenDuque via @mikecane)

  7. Mobile Internet Users will Pass Desktop Users by 2014 - Great Graphic: From Here:

  8. Liz Mallett

    May 6, 2010
    / Reply

    RT @ericrumsey: Mobile Internet Users will Pass Desktop Users by 2014 - Great Graphic: From Here:

  9. Allan Manangan

    May 22, 2010
    / Reply

    Have a good weekend! Here's another good piece "The Mobile Internet Era is Upon Us" from @StevenDuque:

  10. medical assistant

    June 15, 2010
    / Reply

    Wow this is a great resource.. I’m enjoying it.. good article

  11. Molly

    June 27, 2010
    / Reply

    Mobile Internet Era Is Upon Us - Future Content will be on Mobile Phones (@StevenDuque via @mikecane) -

  12. envirophone

    July 15, 2010
    / Reply

    I know that you merely meant nicely and you certainly know what you are discussing, but I cannot say that I get where you are coming from. Just shared this on digg

  13. Gord Young

    July 19, 2010
    / Reply

    A very good and concise article on the state of the mobile internet era. (an era a little past the dawn me thinks)

  14. Gadget news

    July 21, 2010
    / Reply

    I really like your site.. Hope in future mobile internet become more cheap !!

    • Steven

      July 22, 2010
      / Reply

      Thanks! I've checked out your site,, and dug it too!

      I hope you'll continue following the blog, and I'm definitely with you in your hope that mobile internet will become more affordable!


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    July 24, 2010
    / Reply

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  17. P

    September 16, 2010
    / Reply

    Fantastic article! Yes, I see an increase in mobile readers to my site.

  18. Build Mobile Website

    February 3, 2012
    / Reply

    Now in year 2012, many businesses have considered adopting mobile technologies but yet to act on implementing mobile solutions yet.

    Many consider cost to develop by employing new staff to maintain it for long term is expensive as well as the complexity of implementation drives confusion among many professional.

    I guess there should be more educating to be done.

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