There is a lot of buzz these days around the mobile Internet. Kleiner Perkins has set up an iPhone venture fund and Metarand itself has included two mobile ventures in its top three Australian social media startups for 2008.
But there are caveats and traps waiting for the uninitiated in this arena. Joi Ito explains:
I don’t think there is anything wrong with mobile or with some of the great new mobile applications and devices, but we have to be careful to remember that most mobile networks that actually work are built on infrastructure that is operated by a small number of mobile operators who use a lot of regulated and closed technology.
Joi compares the open innovation culture that exists within the broader Internet arena with the telco landscape which conists of overregulated, giant vendor ecologies.
He makes a very good point. Countries that have a small number of dominant telcos are littered with the remains of former bright-eyed startups who thought they could feed off the giants. Only to find that they were not able to get their product onto the carrier any time under an 18 month lead time. And when they finally do get on-deck they are squeezed on price and the carrier’s sales staff do not push them to their customers.
The odds are stacked big time, but for companies who are able to work their way around a reliance on carriers there is loads of upside.
[via Boing Boing, picture courtesy of Mixmaster]