BLOG STARTUPS, VENTURE AND THE TECH BUSINESS

October 18 2010
by Todd Hixon

Europe Lags In Mobile

I’m just back from 12 days in Europe, visiting Positano and Rome, Italy and Munich and Frankfurt, Germany.  I’m struck by how much Europe lags the U.S. in mobile.  This is a small arbitrary sample:  3 major cities and an upscale beach resort in 2 countries.  But, the visible difference is stark.

1.            The data network in Europe made me pine for my AT&T service at home, which I never expected to do.  I learned what the symbol for a GPRS network connection is on my Android phone — I had never seen it in the U.S.  In Marienplatz, the spiffy shopping area in the center of Munich, I had an EDGE connection (no 3G).  Same thing in central Rome.  About the only places I visited with robust 3G connections were the Munich and Frankfurt airports.

2.            Google Nav does not work in central Rome:  the network (Vodaphone Italia) is too slow for the directions to keep up with the car. (It’s OK if you’re walking.)  The fact that core 3G services like this don’t work obviously inhibits development of the smartphone ecosystem.

3.            I saw zero iPads (or tablets of any kind) in twelve days of travel.  The closest I came was an iPad ad on a video screen in the Rome airport.

4.            I saw very few smart phones. Most of those were iPhones carried by Americans.  And, one American woman I spoke with had removed the SIM card from her iPhone to avoid roaming charges, so score that one as an iPod touch.

5.            The smart phone culture that is much evident in the U.S. was absent:  no comparing phones, posting Facebook or Twitter updates, or interesting new apps.  My well-educated, middle class German relatives mostly had feature phones or clunky Nokia “smarphones”; the one who had an iPhone works for Proctor and Gamble.

Europe was a hot-bed of mobile innovation in the 2G era, and European operators made huge forecasts and spectrum outlays anticipating the 3G era.  Much less has actually happened.  And the equipment vendors are saying that 4G deployment is happening first in North American and the small, advanced Asian countries.

So the future of mobile in the next round is likely to be determined in the U.S. (and Asia too, but the U.S. has more critical mass than the small Asian 4G markets).  Despite Symbian’s statistically large smart phone market share (see chart below, the title refers to Windows Phone 7), the battle is between Android and iOS, with Blackberry running behind and Microsoft out of the game unless it buys Blackberry.  For more from The Economist on mobile OS competition, go to http://www.economist.com/node/17202417?story_id=17202417.

Source: The Economist, Oct. 9, 2010

This is good news for U.S. entrepreneurs and VCs.  We are in the crucible of the most important IT innovation of this decade [IMHO].

COMMENTS

October 29 2010
by Tzachi

With all due respect, who said that the US path is better?

We’re talking culture, we’re talking quality of life, we’re talking a US family not communicating among themselves and each is minding his own business and its own Smartphone, while a European family is more social and communicating.

The US herd is lead by advertising, and greed of the companies trying to sell us more and more.

The fact that more people uses smart phones / tablets etc, doesn’t not mean productivity as while they are actually using it they reduce productivity as most are updating their faceobook status.

Its not right or wrong, but stating the EU is a bit lagged, hmmm I think there are reasons, good reasons for that.

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