Here Comes The Mobile Web

Americans for years have been urging the Europeans to get with the times and log onto the Net. But while Americans used the PC to connect to the Internet, Europeans were quietly leveraging their leadership in mobile phones to get to the same place. The result is mobile Net surfing, which could lift Europe ahead of America in the next Internet Revolution.

A chilling thought for the U.S.? Not to worry. If the Internet makes a successful transition into Web phone, the global market should explode, providing plenty of growth on three continents. American companies, active in building the mobile Net in Europe, are sure to remain key players. What's more, the process of building a new Web elsewhere could unleash entrepreneurial energies in Europe and Japan alike, giving them a healthy dose of America's New Economy.

The result will be a truly global Web. Just consider the change ahead. Currently, the Web-surfing population is 55% American, and nearly all the surfers gain access to the Internet when they're sitting at their PCs. As the Web goes mobile, it enters machines that some one billion people are expected to be carrying within three years. This means it should reach the vast majority of consumers in the world--and many of them will be online nearly all day, everywhere they go. Already, e-merchants are salivating at the prospects a mobile Web offers. They'll be able not only to target consumers but also to track them and zap them with enticing offers as they walk or drive by. Of course, this raises privacy concerns, which companies and governments alike will have to take very seriously. And some people might not like the idea of being in touch with everyone at all hours. But that's O.K. Web phones will still have off buttons.