Home' Technology Review : May June 2013 Contents 70
MIT TECHNOLOGY REVIEW
Intel. Yet individual device makers, nota-
bly Apple, capture more profit. That com-
pany’s markets aren’t restricted to one
network. Its products, by bringing per-
sonal computing to phones, have sharply
increased their capabilities and value.
In 2007, the average wholesale price of
a mobile phone was $120 and falling; ana-
lysts talked of market saturation because
nearly everyone who could afford one
had one. But since then, prices have leapt
by 50 percent, and the revenue from all
mobile handset sales has doubled.
Apps and services still account for the
least amount of money in mobile comput-
ing. Mobile advertising brings in only $9
billion as yet. But here is where the most
opportunities lie. Facebook has a monthly
audience as large as any that’s ever been
reached. And in January, it said for the
first time that most of that audience was
coming from mobile devices.
The swings in the company’s value—
it was worth $104 billion at its IPO, then
$42 billion, and now more than $60 bil-
lion—are a measure of its No. 1 rank-
ing among apps (23 percent of the time
that Americans spend on mobile apps is
devoted to Facebook) and the uncertainty
about whether Facebook can profit from
ads on the small screen, something it has
recently started to do.
Who isn’t making money is a story too.
For example, Microsoft’s share of mobile
computing is negligible. The company
“didn’t miss cell phones,” Bill Gates said
in a TV interview in February, “but the
way we went about it didn’t allow us to get
the leadership. It was clearly a mistake.”
Gates underplayed what’s been lost. In
2009, his company’s software was on 90
percent of personal computing devices,
counting smartphones, tablets, and PCs.
At the end of 2012, it was on just 23 per-
cent of such devices.
That was fast. Now, watching the
fever lines on tech analysts’ charts cross
and collide has become a spectator sport.
Smartphones outsell PCs. Touch screens
outnumber keyboards. Even ordinary
search—Google’s great cash cow—is
declining in the United States as people
use their phones to search for restaurants,
bus times, and weather reports.
Large companies are responding with
bold moves. Google is developing Google
Glass—a computer in a pair of glasses.
The components are cheap, off-the-shelf.
It’s not hard to make. Google hopes this
new way to use a computer tilts mobile
revenue in its direction. Whether anyone
will want Glass isn’t clear, but it’s worth
trying. That’s because we’re still early in
the mobile switchover.
How early? Mary Meeker, the Inter-
net prognosticator, leads her annual set
of predictions with observations on the
underlying trends. By her tally, 1.14 bil-
lion people own mobile computers, but
another 5.8 billion don’t. Of those, 4.5
billion aren’t users of the Internet at all.
One entrepreneur with a feel for the
opportunities in those figures is Suneet
Singh Tuli. His company, DataWind, is
trying to sell dirt-cheap tablets in India.
Just as customers in the developing world
skipped landlines for cell phones, Tuli
thinks, they’ll skip PCs for wireless tab-
lets and smartphones. It makes sense: in
India only 11 percent of people are on the
Internet, but just about everyone already
has a mobile phone. “We’re talking about
what will be their first computer,” he says.
That’s a reminder of what the real
stakes are: the killer app isn’t Angry Birds
but access to computing itself. Wireless
smartphones and tablets allow the Internet
and its digital affordances to flow into every
hand, everywhere, in every circumstance.
We’re not in the “late majority” yet, either.
We’ve got nearly six billion people to go.
— Antonio Regalado
business report — making money in mobile
to Install a
The search company is developing a
computer in a pair of glasses. But why
would anyone wear them?
● Google Glass, a compact computer
fitted onto a pair of slim metal eyeglass
frames, must be considered an impres-
Facebook’s share of the time u.s. smart-
phone users spent on apps.
More to Grow
The world’s seven largest markets for smartphone subscriptions
250 Million sMarTphones
4/1/13 3:03 PM
Links Archive March April 2013 July August 2013 Navigation Previous Page Next Page