Mobile is revolutionizing the technology industry, the internet, and the broader economy. To paraphrase Andreessen Horowitz partner Benedict Evans: In 2000 there were less than 500 million people online, while in the last few years that number has reached 3 billion. Two billion of those have been online on mobile devices. The trend for 2020 sees all 3 billion people connected on mobile. Smartphones, therefore, are driving much greater internet penetration.
Our point of view on this subject is very well illustrated by Mr. Evans.
By 2020, 80% of adults on Earth will have a smartphone (source: World Bank, GSMA). Smartphones have the ability to change connection possibilities and their cost is much more affordable than that of a computer. For this reason 4 billion people buy or change phones every two years, while only 1.6 billion purchase a new PC every 5 years.
Mobile Is Not Only “Mobile”
The growth of post-PC devices is huge but mobile devices doesn’t only mean mobile. Indeed they are used everywhere, not just when people are “mobile.”
For 20 years the internet has been synonymous with PC, web browser, mouse, and keyboard. Mobile ended that exclusivity. In the United States half of the time spent online is on smartphone apps. So the present is “I installed an app on my smartphone” which replaces the old PC browser method. Smartphones are much more sophisticated than computers in many regards and can interact with us in different ways (every sensor could kickstart a new business).
Mobile and Tech Market
Mobile use also raises opportunities for tech and the internet. Let’s think about Facebook: mobile ads are now 68% of their revenue and brought in $7.4 billion dollars in 2014. Or look at the WhatsApp boom: 20 billion text messages a day and 30 billion WhatsApp messages (accomplished with just 40 engineers).
Last, but not least, mobile helps in the development of new companies. Emergent new businesses, such as Uber, Amazon, and Airbnb are native to new technology. Ten years ago Airbnb and Uber would have sold their software to Hilton and taxi companies, but now the scale of mobile offers bigger opportunities. More and more companies are following Amazon, Uber, and Airbnb to disrupt existing industries within tech and mobile.
On messaging, Benedict Evans recently tweeted: “Old: all software expands until it includes messaging. New: all messaging expands until it includes software.”
That pretty well sums it up.