Monday, February 4, 2008

Mobile Freakonomics

I’ve studied my fair share of economics over the years during grad school and my MBA, and keep up my interest in the subject by scanning economic bulletins and reading economic forecasts (it is always amusing to see how badly forecasts tend to reflect reality despite their repeated adjustments).

I also like to lift my cap to innovative thinkers, so in a tribute to Stephen Dubner and Steven Levitt, of Freakonomics fame, I thought I’d take a look at some of the freak-est stats about the mobile industry that I could come up with. If it proves popular in stimulating debate I will update the list with readers’ contributions and keep a running tab.

Here goes:

1. What is an emerging market when it comes to mobile technology? The answer is a country that is both below the World Bank average for GNP/capita and that has less than 60% penetration of mobile within the population (so, it includes China, Mexico, Turkey, South Africa, India and Malaysia but excludes Poland and Libya.)

2. Europe throws away 100 million mobile phones each year (most of them still in working condition). At the same time, handset manufacturers, notably Motorola, have launched cheap handsets for emerging markets –erm, another case of misallocation of assets?

3. One of the fastest growing mobile markets in Asia in 2007 was not China, but Bhutan, reaching over 100% year-on-year growth in some quarters of the year

4. One of the fastest growing mobile markets in Eastern Europe in 2007 was Uzbekistan, reaching 130% year-on-year growth in the last quarter

5. In 2006, 4.2 million websites, roughly 12% of all Internet sites were pornographic, constituting 420 million pages worldwide. The value of porn websites runs into hundreds of billions of dollars worldwide (it is $27bn in China alone).When it comes to mobile web, some estimates put the value of mobile adult content worldwide at $3.5bn by 2010 (Source: Juniper Research 2007). Yet, mobile operators haven’t quite come up with an agreed way forward to filter this content on your mobile and the estimated value of this adult mobile market today is tiny…could it be that forecast is a little too optimistic?

Now over to the reader community out there to contribute your list of Mobile Freakonomics to this blog…Some questions to consider could be: “Would mobile coverage on airplanes enhance or deteriorate worker productivity?” Or, “If fixed line telephony subsidised entirely by advertising didn’t take off (the idea was that you got a free call if you were willing to first listen to an ad), does it mean the same model won’t work for mobile?”.

No comments:

Post a Comment