This week, the winning post of ‘krisse’ in the Carnival of the Mobilists has spawned some interesting thoughts over here. In the post, ‘krisse’ reports about entry level phones such as the Nokia 5000, which are around 100 euros without a contract, now come with OperaMini pre-installed. With a screen resolution of 320×240 pixels, the viewing experience is as good as with much more expensive feature phones. He didn’t say anything about how fast the browser runs on the phone but I assume processors have become fast enough even on S40 phones for the purpose.
So while Nseries devices and the iPhone might push the mobilized Internet revolution from the top, they won’t bring the real breakthrough as they are too expensive for a broad audience. But with phones for 100 euros now supporting feature rich mobile web browsers, that’s a different thing entirely. I would say that such phones are used by the majority of people in Europe, North America and many Asian countries.
From a hardware price point of view, mobile Internet access for the masses is now possible. Problem solved. From a software point of view, Opera Mini and other browsers have also reached a level of maturity that make them mass market usable. Hardware and software, however, is not all that it takes. In addition, I think the following things need to be put in place:
- Prepaid data plans, either ‘fair use’ or a reasonable price per megabyte. Such plans are in place now in many countries now, but one can argue about the many ‘if’s, ‘buts’ and ‘must nots’ though. If marketed well and if they are simple enough to understand without a law and computer science degree, such offers should reduce the fear of only knowing one month later what mobile browsing sessions have cost.
- Training of sales people: Absolutely essential! The average normob (normal mobile user) doesn’t want to figure it out himself. Currently, most sales people in shops are just clueless. This has to change.
- Autoconfiguration / Pre-configuration: Devices must work out of the box, normob’s don’t configure anything. Again, a chance for operators to stay valuable in the value chain.
- Advertise compelling services: Also, good progress seen here nowadays with Vodafone and others advertising Facebook, Google and eBay on mobile devices.
Any other requirements I have missed for mass market mobilization of the Internet?