The mobile internet train has left the station

Finally we’re there: after many years of patient evangelization we see this year the launch of the first commercial mobile internet sites. De Standaard was the first to launch his mobile news site. This was followed by several other mobile initiatives, such as De Tijd, VDAB, Jobat, Telenet, Truvo and the VRT.

The development of the mobile internet in Belgium seems to have lifted off. And this is only the beginning: when we look at our neighbouring countries, we can expect a strong growth in the offering ànd the use of the mobile internet in the coming months. In France, 25% of the 15-50 year olds uses the mobile internet on a weekly basis. In the Netherlands, 1,6 million mobile subscribers frequently use the mobile internet. In the past few years, the growth of the mobile data traffic has shown a growth rhythm of 50 – 100%.

Many companies and marketers are, with good reason, asking themselves whether they should jump the band wagon or not. Proponents see enormous business opportunities for specific mobile internet applications:

  • The possibility to stay in touch with the client or the end-user “anytime, anywhere”;
  • The capturing and monetizing of “impulse-moments”, when the mobile phone is the only device at hand of the consumer;
  • The building of a mobile user group, complementary and even larger than the users of existing media.

Critics however see mainly barriers for the implementation of a mobile internet site:

  • Many companies are only just now occupied with the building up of their corporate website and internet activities. An additional mobile platform only causes an additional complexity.
  • Some claim that the availability of a separate mobile site is not really necessary since the iPhone and its adapted Safari browser.
  • In the present difficult economical circumstances, there is not much budget available for the implementation of such new initiatives.

For many different initiatives, we – as a privileged partner – have been able to build up certain insights, which can serve to bring some perspective to the decision process:

  • Mobile internet is mostly important for young people (hence the success of the mobile version of Facebook) and professionals who want to be continuously fed with “real-time” information, as proven by the rapid success of De Standaard Mobile;
  • The consumption of the mobile internet site is often very different and complementary to this of a website (as well in intensity, time and frequency of the use);
  • The simplicity of the pages and the speed at which they charge are primary design elements at the development of a mobile internet site; most existing websites are totally not adapted for consumption on a mobile device (not even on an iPhone).

The question is no longer whether companies will launch mobile internet sites, but rather when they preferably should do this. Building up the first insights in time seems primordial to us to have a good position in this fast developing market. The companies that now have, within a limited budget, the guts to launch their first projects will without a doubt be able to get the benefits from this on the short term. That’s what they call: “first movers’ advantage”.

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