Mobile Phone Boom Predicted – WEF Future of Mobile Technology
Fortune Senior Editor David Kirkpatrick led a power-packed session at Davos this afternoon called The Future of Mobile Technology. Panelists included Google CEO Eric Schmidt, FCC Chairman Kevin Martin, Sony CEO Sir Howard Stringer, NBC Universal CEO Jeff Zucker, SK Telecom CEO Kim Shin-Bae and China Mobile CEO Wang Jianzhou.
The currently 3 billion strong (worldwide) mobile phone subscriber base is growing dramatically. At yesterday’s (Jan 25) WEF Future of Mobile Technology Forum, panelists including Google CEO Eric Schmidt and China Mobile CEO Wang Jianzhou, talked about the growth in mobile handset ownership and the demand for new/smart convergent technology platforms versus traditional handsets.
China Mobile is adding 6 million new subscribers each month! At that run rate, China Mobile will add 72 million new subscribers in 2008! There was no breakdown as to how many are pay-as-you-go. Approximately 2/3rd of China Mobile’s existing customers are prepaid (pay-as-you-go). Regardless, that growth rate is staggering. It is also a reflection of new prosperity in China. The most profitable customers as “on contract” smart-phone owners, who are likely to subscribe to carrier data-plans an will be prime users of mobile Internet and mobile TV.
Here are a few quotes form the WEF Future of Mobile Technology Forum…
Panel Moderator, David Kirkpatrick: “There are more than three billion people with cell phones, far more than there are personal computers.” …. “It will not be long before we are all carrying video (transmitting) cell phones. What we now call the cell phone is becoming the de facto Internet device. The technology industry is rapidly becoming the mobile technology industry.”
Howard Stringer (Sony CEO): Regarding voice and data services and how carriers can profit from the growth in mobile … “Show me the money is one thing you can ask,” said Sony chief executive Howard Stringer. “There isn’t any obvious money. Is all voice going to be free going forward? Obviously we’re not making enough money off downloading of music to offset the loss of our packaged goods.”
Wang Jianzhou, (China Mobile CEO): The future, he suggested, was with “location advertising” enabled by the handset’s GPS devices. “We know where you are. If we want to know how many people are in a stadium, how many people are in a supermarket,” he marvelled. “We can know the speed (of cars). So we can send special kinds of information.”
Eric Schmidt, (Google CEO), was upbeat, predicting “a huge revolution.”… “It seems obvious that advertising, that works so well on the traditional Internet, should also work well on the mobile internet,” he said.
“After all, they know where you are. You’re driving along and it says, ‘Eric, you had pizza yesterday and there’s a hamburger stand on the right.’ In theory location-based advertising will be a very good business and useful to the end user.”