Dispatches from Barcelona - Day 2 - Mobile World Congress 2012
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Day 2 at Mobile World Congress included sessions on Mobile in the Growth Markets and the future of Mobile Application Development.
If there was any doubt about the impact that mobile communications has had on developing countries, the presentations by today's speakers put that off the table. After food, the next dollar spent in many developing markets is for communications. And today, in these markets, if you don't have access the internet, you are considered illiterate. The interesting thing about growth markets and mobile is that the majority of population are young - establishing patterns that will persist for decades to come. Youth is driving the growth.
Another dimension where growth markets are showing the way forward is: "Data will replace voice" (as source of growth and revenue)
And social networking - an every day activity by the young audience in emerging markets - is a main driver for data growth.
While mobile communications is a "game changer" for the developed economies, in the emerging markets it is a "life changer", opening up opportunities for health care, education, and government services to be enabled on a massive scale.
The way business is done in these economies is changing, out of necessity. While there are only 85,000 bank branches in India, there are 2.5 million phone recharge outlets! How can these not turn into effective banking centers as people use their mobile charge balance as a form of currency?
Some of the predictions for the next year included that very inexpensive smart phones must become a reality. When this happens, the data traffic generated from emerging markets will explode. Could models of the emerging markets lead the way for the next generation of mobile in the developed markets? I would not be surprised to see it happen within the next 5 years.
The session on mobile application development was full of thought provoking and disruptive ideas. One that lingers in my mind is the concern about how we may be looking in the rear-view mirror as we think about mobile apps and what they should be. Why do we, as the end users, have to find them and install them? Why can't they "find us"? And provide an unobtrusive hint that they can offer some information or service of value, within the context of who I am, where I am, and what I am doing?
Combine that idea with growth markets and social networking... and watch the network lines melt !