Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Mobile Web 2.0 - 2

Before continuing further let me try to highlight what’s the scope of “Mobile Web 2.0” postings, basically the target is to explain what are the preconditions required for mobile web 2.0 to really happen. In my first posting I gave a brief introduction about what is web 2.0? What were the underlying factors that contributed to its present success? At the same time I also covered one important precondition for mobile web 2.0 i.e. Mobile network infrastructure.

.In this posting I would continue discussing another important requirement i.e. Availability of Smartphones in huge volumes at affordable price. Now you may wonder what is a Smartphone, In general mobile phones fall into 3 categories

  • Basic Phone-It’s a typical phone with only basic voice focused features .its typical common type of Mobile phone available at low end of price range.(<125>
  • Feature Phone –It’s Basic Phone plus additional features like integrated camera, better Color screen display .Typically these phones also allow java or Brew applications to be downloaded on to the phone .But typically these phones are built using proprietary and closed OS .Hence applications that are available are limited in functions. Generally these phones have mid price range (150-250 $)Ex: Nokia 6265,6230,Motorola Razr V3
  • Smart Phone - it’s a terminology used to describe a phone which has at least the following extra capabilities and typically they run on open OS Platform like S60, Windows Mobile.
    • Internet access Capability(Normal HTML Browsing capabilities),
    • PDA (i.e. Calendar ,Email applications and capabilities to synchronies them with desktop corresponding applications )
    • SW applications can be installed by user to increase the functionality –these applications typically have much richer functionalities compared to Feature phone applications.

Typically these phones are priced more that 300 $. Example: Nokia 6600, 6630, N70, N90.Motorola HC700.

Now coming back to our topic for Mobile web 2.0 to happen we need to have good percentage of mobile phones to be in smartphone category today (according to 2005 statistics) only around 5.5 % of total mobile phones that are sold are smartphones (45 million out of 823 million) .But important thing is this segment is growing nearly at 100% year on year. So my personal view based on PC web 2.0 history analysis is that we need to have at least around 15-20 % of mobile phone shipment to be smart phone to have any meaning full business case for mobile web 2.0 services or mobile data services in general.

Now good question to ask might be is this 100 % growth rate in smart phone is going to continue with the present smartphone price range? Simple answer is NO, only way further volume growth in this segment can happen is when price of smart phones fall to the level of present day feature phones i.e. 150-250 $.I strongly believe that is the direction industry is moving recently Steve Ballmer was saying that smartphone at price range of 150 by 2009 is his company target I would say these are some of the indicators that this may happen in reality .Now I will try to list some of the practical drivers that will make this happen

· There is strong move in industry towards platform horizontalisation both Hardware and SW side .Similar way as in PC industry .Though it might turn out to be little bit tricky compared to PC.

o There are 3 competing SW platform in market available for any device manufacturer they are S60 (based on Symbian) by Nokia, Windows Mobile by Microsoft, Linux. And you can find already many vendors have chosen these platforms.

o Now there is same kind of move happening in semiconductor side also there were many announcements made in 3GSM conference.Among them some of the key players are

§ FreeScale single chip solution for S60 (Single chip means that single silicon chip has both wireless processor and Application processor) this greatly reduces the cost and also size of devices.

§ ST micro electronics,TI ,Intel have announced similar plans

o Surprisingly another big player i.e. operators are also nowadays seeing the benefit of horizontalisation on device side and trying to select their SW platforms of choice

· Again recently Vodofone biggest mobile operator in the world Chose S60 as one of their Sw platform of choice.

Considering the above factors make me believe that the smartphone prices are going to fall and finally will be available at affordable prices. But the critical question is when .So let me know try to make a bold prediction to answer that question I think the time might be end of this decade (more concretely I expect by 2009 time frame).

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