The problem with mobile

Why hasn’t the whole cell phone industry exploded?

I don’t mean the "use a portable phone to call people" market. That market is doing great, because everyone knows how to use a phone and a cell phone is just a better solution to that problem for a lot of uses.

I mean the entire "data in my pocket" or "fundamentally different kind of interaction" business. For years, everyone has been talking about the coming goldmine in mobile.

I think the problem is that we’ve been trying to solve the wrong problem.

Ten or fifteen years ago, when I was working with the folks at Prodigy, just about all the functionality of the web was known. And yet almost no one was working on the right stuff–the stuff that ended up working. Take a look at virtually every giant online success (except for Amazon) and none of them were obvious in 1992.

I think we’re going to discover a whole new universe of cell phone services that people want to pay for, things that we won’t be able to live without. Like… ringtones.

Mobile doesn’t have a problem. We (the marketers and the entrepreneurs) do.