10 years ago, who would have thought you could book a plain ticket, or read the New York Times or "Le Monde" on a mobile phone?

The scope of mobile medias went under the spotlights just recently with the appearance of the iPhone and the extra-ordinary boost given to iTune and its AppStore (while iTune existed long ago then).

While most analyst predict a huge growth in downloads of applications, they all base their analysis on existing providers (Apple, Android, RIM, etc), this view is very restrictive. It's like analyzing the future of mobile search in 1997 before Google's entrance in the market around 1998 (read history of Google here).

Also, this industry is still regarded by most as an underdoog. This mostly come from the fact that many key deciders are above 40 (if not saying 50s) and to them, a phone is a phone, yes they understood you can get a bit more from your phone (barely SMS, emails with Blackbberies), but beyond that, it's more gadgets than anything else.

However, the newest generations of mobile phone, the "smartphone", is probably the biggest evolution in personal medias that happened since the introduction of a Walkman by Sony back in 1979; and this for few simple reasons:

1. Penetration of mobile phones is higher than traditional internet lines (on PCs), and in many countries consumers mostly on have a mobile phone

2. A mobile phone is, by definition, mobile and can thus answer to instantaneous needs of consumers, wherever they are. Eventually, geolocalization services will probably gain huge interest for example. But it currently fills need need to be connected to your friends 24/7, read the news, take and share pictures, view web sites, lisent to music (and call)...

3. The growth of smartphones is not so surprising, as this fills the need for mobility expressed in point 2 above. But there's smartphone and smartphone, and many manufacturers have different definitions for it.

Nokia X3
For example, when you go to Nokia's smartphone page (click here), you see the X3 listed among them. Looking at the review from GMS Arena, you can see that this phone released in September 2009:
- Has no 3G (only Edge)
- Has no GPS
- Runs on Symbian Series 40 OS (very, very old OS)
- No Wi-Fi
- No full touch screen
- Screen hard to see with slight angle

Of course it enables most social networking tools, have great music capabilities and is aiming more at the price sensitive consumers.

But as for a phone truely enabling tomorrow's new eEconomy; well, I wouldn't call it a "smartphone" myself yet.

4. A mobile phone is a personal device; I would even say an intimate device. In terms of eCommerce, there are thus huge opportunities! Its ability to be customizable (Apps, etc) and in so many different ways (from music, to business, etc) will soon make all other devices obsolete (at least for everyday's life).

5. Democratization: just as flatscreen TVs, smartphones are to become soon "the standard", very soon; even if phones like the iPhone 4 still remain unaffordable for the masses, numerous entry-level phones (pricewise) now come with very acceptable features, letting people enter this new age of mobile usage; and within a year or two, they will become mainstream.

As a consequence, it is very likely that mobile phones could in a medium term replace traditional PCs when it comes to eCommerce, or at least create a huge new area of growth for them.

Two examples already illustrate this:
- Traditional Medias, such as printed magazines, see the arising of iPhone but especially of iPad and related tablets as a way to survive when their print edition's sales are decreasing and when even their existance is at stake (ex: "Le Monde" in France).

- Video games: while 2009 showed a 10% decrease in this multi-billion industry; the mobile game world is still increasing at double digit rate (Gameloft for example...)

But are we there yet?


Yes, you can buy contents on your phone through dedicated stores. But we are still in the early ages, as this is being so compartimented that we can hardly call this a full eCommerce environement.

The aim of this blog is to give some insights on all the strategic decisions made by the major actors in the industry and answer those simple questions:
- In which direction the industry is going
- Strategies taken by various actors. From phone manufacturers to mobile operators, they are all buidling their own strategies, their own application store, etc. Do they all make sense, or are we in a "Bubble" with lots of excitement that will soon fall down for some who just did their "me too" thing.

We'll also look at the various strategies of implementations, not so much in a purely technical aspect (as that's really not my turf), but mostly from a business stand point: do it yourself vs. outsourcing; when outsourcing: which partner to choose; who to launch a service?

- What is really missing today to go from a "wow, you made millions of downloads" to "wow, you made millions of dollars"? For example, currently you have 2 different business models: the paid content model, and the ad-based model.You could oppose Apple's App Store model to Google's Android Market model; but with iAd coming and more paid content appearing (slowly) on Android Market, the line is not so visible anymore.

- What is missing to go from an industry selling stuff for your mobile, to an industry where you can buy any stuff from your mobile (and not just "for" your mobile)?

That later question is really the one that shall really make the difference long term. Can you buy your online movie ticket, or get that latest promo from Amazon or Best Buy directly from your phone in an easy manner? Right now, you still have to be quite motivated...

Little by little, I will ad posts answering those questions with precise examples.

All your thoughts and feedback are welcome!


P.S. This blog is purely personal and doesn't reflect in any manner the position of the company I work for (Gameloft)