Monday, November 13, 2006

The Mobile Opportunity -- If You Build It, They Will Come

I have had a running dialog with a number of respected bloggers and thought leaders about what I believe to be the inevitable tremendous consumer demand and market opportunity for mobile two-way video (video calling and "see what I'm seeing"). We already are seeing an explosive market for one-way video over mobile devices, despite only 11% of all mobile phones today being able to support video. With this poised to change over the next few years, is there really any doubt that both consumers and business users will use mobile two-way video to solve their needs (at least assuming that the quality is there and the user experience just "works")?

Consider the following statistics from Gartner:

-- 1 billion camera phones will be sold by 2010

-- penetration rates for camera phones (as a percentage of all mobile phone sales) will be over 93% in North America, Western Europe and Japan by 2010

Cameras are THE new "standard equipment" in mobile phones. And, as Gartner confirms, the quality of these cameras in mobile phones is poised to increase significantly (and will be heavily marketed as such by the carriers). Coupled with significant improvements in networks, mobile video -- as a compelling and widely used (in fact, everyday) form of communication -- has an air of inevitability around it. As I and others have previously discussed (including Jeff Pulver, Ken Camp and Andy Abramson), mobile video solves unique problems. But, let's not discount the "fun" factor here as well. Nor should we discount the incentives for carriers and manufacturers to heavily market these services.

If they build them, users most certainly will come ...