Mobile Computing Is Just Getting Started
Mobile computers are spreading faster than any other consumer technology in history. In the United States, smartphones have even begun reaching the group of relative technophobes that consumer researchers call the “late majority.” About half of mobile-phone users now have one.
Wireless carriers make money at the greatest scale. Globally, 900 of them take in $1.3 trillion in revenue each year, about four times the combined revenue of Google, Apple, Microsoft, and Intel. Yet individual device makers, notably Apple, capture more profit. That company’s markets aren’t restricted to one network. Its products, by bringing personal computing to phones, have sharply increased their capabilities and value.
In 2007, the average wholesale price of a mobile phone was $120 and falling; analysts talked of market saturation because nearly everyone who could afford one had one. But since then, prices have leapt by 50 percent, and the revenue from all mobile handset sales has doubled.
Apps and services still account for the least amount of money in mobile computing. Mobile advertising brings in only $9 billion as yet. But here is where the most opportunities lie. Facebook has a monthly audience as large as any ever reached. And in January, it said for the first time that more of that audience was coming from mobile devices than from PCs.
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