Surviving the Mobile Cliff

Surviving the Mobile Cliff

Summary: Continued hyper-growth in the mobile landscape is not a foregone conclusion, and factors that could lead to the "Mobile Cliff" are strengthening.


In my last blog entry, I talked about the 7-year cycle of evolution in the mobile market and some of the forces that shape it.  And I made the prediction that today's focus on apps will be replaced by a similar focus on multichannel enablement by 2017.

In the mobile world, that's a long, long time -- plenty of time for things to go wrong.  And that is natural, as new eras are sometimes a product of disruptions.  With that in mind,  what if there is a "mobile cliff" lurking that will shake up the industry?  

 To me, such a cliff is nearer than one might think. Consider: 

  • Mobile operators worldwide face great operational pressures to build out the wireless channels and supporting infrastructure for the coming wave of smartphones and tablets.  So, it is likely that end users in certain markets worldwide will experience ongoing issues with coverage and reliability.  And no, shifting to WiFi won't solve all the use cases that will make up the fabric of a multichannel world.  
  • In the past few days, old guard vendors like Nokia and Research in Motion have seen an uptick in market sentiment, reminding us all of the industry's global scale, and that the final set of app ecosystems isn't yet etched in stone.  Hence, all enterprises investing in mobile face near certain disruption of the code base(s) that they are using for mobile.   And no, HTML5 and the modern web won't solve all of this, as I will cover in an upcoming blog.
  • Economics:  the disparity in the amount of app usage/spend/network traffic between Android and iOS users is a compelling piece of evidence that a good part of the population simply doesn't have the disposable income to fuel ecosystems, and that one necessary refinement is a more complicated set of advert-based multichannel business models. 

So, what if these three factors coincide? Looking at the numbers/trends, this is is likely to happen around early 2015. What many enterprises and app developers will face is the need to rethink the architecture, platform, and business models that have carried them through the first stage of the current mobile app era.    

Are you rethinking yours? 

Topics: Mobility, Apple, Mobile OS, ÜberTech

William Clark

About William Clark

Bill has 27 years of industry experience, joining SAP from Gartner where he was a Research Vice President and his responsibilities included enterprise mobile strategy, mobile software development and context-aware computing.

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  • Network Use

    Having worked for a carrier, I know there's no way carriers will ever be able to keep up with network bandwidth use - no matter what they do to beef up their networks, mobile device manufacturers, mobile developers and users will easily find ways to consume it. It's a never ending battle.
  • The World Is Heading For A Microsoft Cliff

    Re point 1: Studies have reported that Android, the most popular and fastest-growing mobile platform, consumes only a fraction of the Internet bandwidth that IOS does. So the increasing market share of Android will actually put a brake on increasing bandwidth consumption.

    Re point 2: "sentiment" means nothing, what matters is cold hard cash from actual sales. And so far, both Nokia and RIM continue to hemorrhage cash like it's going out of fashion.

    Re point 3: Users attract developers to a platform, not other way round.
    • ldo17

      Android only uses a fraction because maybe 6 people use it on the internet... DUH!

      Skewed studies by ido17 report, "Studies have reported that Android, the most popular and fastest-growing mobile platform, consumes only a fraction of the Internet bandwidth that IOS does."