Mobile broadband and apps for all?
As my colleague Dr. Windsor Holden has observed, apps were the order of the week at Mobile World Congress. I always find it’s very easy to get very excited about the potential usage of the latest mobile innovations – but hey – I’m in the industry so I should – right? The thousands of attendees in Barcelona are crucial to the achievement of mass market apps. They are delivering the enablers like broadband network infrastructure, new devices and many other aspects of extending and improving our experience as users. To achieve mass market app usage though we need both mobile broadband and smart phones to be available to the masses. This week we saw many important announcements, not least of which were a number of device vendors launching lower cost smart phones to penetrate the next level. From a broadband network perspective, I attended the Intel WiMAX Analyst Event on Monday evening: it was called “2010: WiMAX is Mass Market”. As I said, it’s very easy for us in the industry to get excited and maybe over hype developments and potential, and then find that the technology takes longer to achieve market traction. WiMAX is a case in point: it has undoubtedly had poor PR and seen slow market penetration. But the clear (get the pun?) message from Monday is that it is now in active deployment and successful in a number of operators. There are currently in excess of 500 fixed and mobile WiMAX trials and commercial deployments in 146 countries (to be precise). This is good news. Of course it’s not got the subscriber volume or coverage of HSPA, and LTE is a natural evolution for most mobile operators, but it is successfully operating in the Americas, Europe and Asia - for example in situations where the DSL infrastructure is sub optimal or non-existent. Here's my short video blog on this event. To my amusement, next morning I opened the Show Daily to find an article about HSPA, LTE & embedded devices entitled “Mobile Broadband Goes Mass Market”! Ultimately though it will not be the mobile industry – or the current small percentage of users that have smart phones - that decide which products and apps for mobile tickets for example achieve mass market. It will be “average user”: 99% of the population in other words.