Lest We Forget

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Gartner’s Hype Cycle is a very astute piece of analysis and one which seems increasingly applicable to a huge variety of technology. It basically posits that new products and services typically go through early hype stage by vendors, while meeting a wall of indifference by users. Once the vendor has entered into the trough of disillusionment and very often gone on to hype newer things, some users will find cool and froody things to do with the product, tell their friends, who tell their friends and suddenly we have an “over night success”.

Wap is a great example, with 29% of adults now using it in developed markets like the UK and even 22% of adults in less advanced markets, like the US, according to M:Metrics. This is despite the fact that most operators long ago stopped seriously promoting it and is almost entirely down to users discovering Wap for themselves.

So it’s gratifying to read of the latest stats for mobile data usage from Informa Telecoms & Media, which shows that mobile data revenues surpassed $100 billion in 2005 worldwide. This is at a time when many operators are privately despairing that this market is ever going to take off.

But this is the tip of the veritable ice berg and mobile data will emerge to be one of the most significant markets to emerge -ever - both in terms of commercial importance, but also in the way it effects society on a profound level. Just as the motor car fundamentally changed the 20th century, the 21st will be molded by mobile data.

While the lesson of Gartner’s Hype Cycle might be that technology always takes longer to take off than we might think, it doesn’t preach that¬†dumb acceptance is the only way forward. So if operators could¬†do only one thing to accelerate this juganaut, what would it be? Fixed price data plans would start to shift this baby out of the trough of disillusionment like you wouldn’t believe.

We want to embrace this cool new stuff, this vision of the future, but we don’t want to be bled through the nose while we experiment.

So come on, operators, unleash this force and marvel at the result and the profits you’ll make as a result.

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