The Mobile Computing Era Opens

This week signaled a dramatic shift in Silicon Valley that will reverberate throughout business and society for the next few decades.  Google buys Motorola to sell mobile phones. HP drops out of the PC business. Mark Andreesen writes how the future is software.  IBM announces a neurochip that learns.  All these separate, but related announcements point to a shift toward mobile computing on the cloud powered by software that learns.

What does this mean for entrepreneurs and the tech community?  Having witnessed how the PC and Internet changed the world, here are my prognostications:

– Mobile apps and service designers, developers and programmers are the hot tickets right now.  Mobile apps are already saturating the market so apps curation services will be needed so users can find the apps they need from the mountain of apps.  Think Yahoo for mobile apps.

– iPad services will lead in tablet service innovation.  Instead of single apps, tablet users will want personalized services based on friends’ recommendations and their behavior that recommend and automatically serve integrated apps.  Example:  a mother with grade school kids who needs child care, errand, e-learning and other services to make life easier and cheaper.

– Chipmakers will stuff their chips with a variety of social media and mobile apps and services to make mobile devices faster and more effective.  IBM’s new neurochip will lead to “chips that learn” from user behavior and social networking interactions so the cloud will become a personalized brain, not just a big cloud of undifferentiated services.  Think a personal HAL smartphone “butler.”

– China, Southeast Asia, India, Latin America and the Mideast will increasingly drive mobile innovation due to their large, young populations.  Smart westerners will partner with offshore programmers to create new mobile apps and services for these growing markets.  Example:  India is pioneering mobile e-banking due to the lack of banks in many villages.

– Women, especially in developing regions, will be drivers for new mobile apps and services in retail, banking, learning, health, childcare, work and other crucial fields.  In most economies, women influence most of the consumer purchasing decisions so heed their needs and requirements.  In 2000, my friend sold for $700 million to CNET; the early adopters of comparison shopping were women.

So there will be an enormous number of new opportunities, just as we saw with the PC and Internet booms.  The key is to find urgent market needs — must-haves, not just nice-to-haves — and develop a simple, affordable solution.  Then you’ll be on your way to developing potentially a breakthrough venture.



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