GenuineVC David Beisel's Perspective on Digital Change

April 21, 2006

While it wasn’t truly news, I found the release for the Ipsos Insight report, Mobile Phones Could Soon Rival the PC As World’s Dominant Internet Platform, to have some telling facts. Subtitled “Mobile Phones Poised To Overtake The PC As The Dominate Internet Platform In Some Markets,” it included findings like:

• “Globally, just over one-fourth (28%) of mobile phone owners worldwide have browsed the Internet on a wireless handset.”

• “[There is a] strong association between Internet usage and mobile phone ownership. Among those who had gone online in the past 30 days, household ownership spiked to over 90% in 10 of the 12 global markets studied.”

The release also put forth the (nearly self-evident statement), “Internet browsing via a wireless device is showing robust growth in many global markets, [but in]… the U.S. and Canada, where wireless Internet access via notebook PC appears to be emerging as the stronger out-of-home Internet platform.”

So it was interesting to read about progress on both platforms highlighted in blogs this week. As a self-described “proponent” of UMPC (Ultra Mobile PC) platform (aka Origami) Michael Parekh riffed a bit on a patent application by Apple on describing “activation of virtual keys of a touch screen keyboard.” (via UMPC news). Worth clicking-through to check out some of the diagrams and Michael’s thoughts.

Also, Russell Beattie talked about new Japanese mobile phones with VGA displays. Better yet, his commentary on Nokia’s recent “Buttons for Humans” campaign for entry into the flip-phone market rang true, “The most heinous crimes ever committed against the physical human interface we call a mobile phone keypad were perpetrated by none other than Nokia itself!”

Russell’s two posts really hit the core issues of any portable device, regardless of platform (mobile phone or wireless PC). Boiled to its essence from a user’s point of view, the differences between these platforms are simple – input and display, which drive the form factor. And so while it looks like the Apple patents diagrams are initially applied to UMPC devices, with a longer time horizon, these alternative methodologies for inputting could be applied to the mobile as well. I mean, how long have rumors about an Apple mobile phone been circulating? So while the Ipsos report makes the distinction between wireless devices and wireless notebook PCs, I don’t care (in the long run). To me, the real story broader story here is that mobile internet access – regardless of device – is trending upwards. And as innovative displays and input methods progress, we’ll see technology facilitating that adoption.

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