With the increased demand for online social networking and the fast-paced development of Web 2.0 applications - most visibly through "mashups" - Mobile 2.0, or more clearly put: mobile Internet applications, are forecasted to be the next step in our technology-conscious generation. However, we must take note that Mobile 2.0 is a shift from a technology driven-market to a customer and service driven one.
The reality that mobile network operators (MNO's) are promoting mobile Internet and WAP access is more evident than ever. Mobile handset browsers have improved with every new device, data charges have plunged dramatically in the past 18 months and will continue to fall. However, this just places extra challenges on how MNO's can monetize value-added services, even though the demand from their subscribers is skyrocketing.
As part of this paradigm shift, value-added services are a first step in enticing subscribers to join the Mobile 2.0 generation. Applications such as location-based services help MNO's promote web navigation and encourage the use of Mobile 2.0. However getting subscribers to use their handset browsers more, not just their desktop browsers, will remain a challenge until MNOs can create additional value from the mobile experience, not just a smaller version of what we know and love from our desktops.
And this is where Mobile 2.0 comes in. Just as Web 2.0 promoted the aggregation of services from multiple providers - think of the proliferation of Facebook applications, for example - to allow users to make their own context relevance, Mobile 2.0 offers the potential for MNOs to transcend pure data carriage and become a true value-add in the mobile internet. By providing capabilities that allow application developers to inject mobile context - such as location awareness, technology type etc - into a variety of applications, MNOs stand to maintain revenue growth AND retain prominence in the Internet value chain for their subscribers.
So, is Mobile 2.0 predicted to be the next big step for the Internet?
We firmly believe so. As applications become easier to navigate and as customer demand for interactive services increases, and the pure economical factor that laptop computers and PC's are comparatively expensive to buy, we can see that Mobile 2.0 applications will swing the pendulum firmly towards the handset rather than just the desktop. The winners will be the services which can harness this new paradigm and add contextual value to the mobile Internet.
And the real winners will be us, the subscribers!
Mark White is the founder and CEO of Brisbane-based mobile application vendor Locatrix Communications.