What’s going on with the mobile Internet? Google’s (GOOG) vice president of engineering Vic Gundotra and other mobile execs discussed the mobile Web at Morgan Stanley’s technology conference. We’re about to start live blogging Google CEO Eric Schmidt’s chat, but we’ll sum up the mobile Web chat in a bit. Live notes below. (Your mileage may vary.)
Waiting for presentation to begin.
3:06 Oops: Turns out this is a mobile Internet panel. More information as we get it.
3:08 Morgan Stanley president giving preface. Not missing anything yet. Looking for more information about the panelists.
3:09 Looks like Mary Meeker is hosting.
3:09 Mary takes over. Hottest technology is going to be mobile Internet. 4 billion mobile phones, very few connected.
3:10 Katy Huberty on panel, covers Apple for Morgan Stanley. Vic from Google. Entertainment/content exec from Nokia. Jon S. von Tetzchner, founder and CEO of Opera Software.
3:12 What to take away from mobile congress in Barcelona? Jon from Opera: Mobile Internet happening big time. Focus on widgets. Fairly interesting. Different widget implementations that are not compatible. One of the important things we see is to try to get applications that run on iPhones, series 60, Windows Mobile, etc. (Of course Opera would love that.)
3:14 Nokia: Announced Ovi store (Nokia’s App Store), including widgets, related to services. Push email for consumers.
3:15 Vic: Couple of major themes. Surprised by smartphone optimism in this economy. Rise of the Internet. Apparent that mobile device has become personal device. Quality of that browser matters. Industry is trying to catch up with the Apple experience.
3:16 Does open platform win? Jon from Opera, I believe: I think we’ve seen it happen on PC already. When we started with Internet, Compuserve, Web 1. Second stage: Native apps. Apple would not be the company they had today if you don’t need native apps anymore. Everything is running from inside the browser. Risk that seeing silos coming up on mobile side. I think everyone would agree that we actually agree on the standards. Just need to have quality engine underneath. (Opera, of course.)
3:18 Vic from Google agrees. Mobile guys making dorky jokes. In charge of making a lot of Google mobile apps. To develop those apps for iPhone, Nokia, RIM, WinMo, Android, J2ME: I can’t afford it! It’s too much fragmentation. Even though I have more engineering than other companies. iPhone has implemented HTML5, Android, Opera… this new class of high powered browser. GMail, Maps, they rock on those phones. The others will be strugging to catch up.
3:20 Opera: Been doing Internet for a long time. The one Web does not only apply to PC side and mobile side. Philips going to market with browser. Other devices. All connecting together.
3:21 Vic: Apple exists because the Web won. It’s true. I was responsible for evangelism at MSFT, we were winning pre-Web. Dynamic is repeating itself on mobile — the rise of the Web.
3:22 Katy: Never seen so much growth ever than on iPhone. In part because it’s been constrained.
3:23 Jon, I think: I don’t expect unified will be like PC world where everything looks same. I believe much more innovation around form factors, functionality of devices. Phones will be connected to larger ecosystem.
3:24 Vic making hurricane analogy. We are seeing of emergence through smartphones and browsers of what many of us have dreamed of for years: Mobile Internet is happening and is exploding, but happening during period of turmoil.
3:26 Demand for iPhone, apps is strong. With all investment in networks, etc. Is industry going to allow Apple to maintain premium margin? Higher carrier subsidy, retaining 30%, etc.?
3:26 Google: We don’t really care. 62% of all mobile traffic in U.S. coming from iPhone. (Bad report.) Same Webkit browser in Android, new Palm. If Apple introduced that browser, that’s the lasting impact. Don’t know about how they’ll deal with carriers, margins, etc. But they were first to put real Web on mobile devices. (Ouch to Opera!)
3:28 Nokia, rolling out Ovi into huge base. In some markets, 30/70; in some markets, need to share with carriers. Key to maintain openness. What is limiting factors in discovery? Consumer wants choice. (Not sure what he’s getting at.)
3:29 Jon: 1.5 billion users on PC side. Suddenly adding another 2.5 billion. Increasing amount of people could potentially reach to 4 billion. That’s a big step moving forward. Access to Internet, content is opening up a lot of business opportunities to business worldwide.
3:30 Vic: Which app store will you see GMail in? The iPhone app store? No! The Web browser. I have to give lots of Kudos to Steve Jobs, add Web app to home screen, on parity with native apps. But for large category for devices, broad audience, browser will win out in the long term.
3:31 Nokia: In order to get push email, need more than browser.
3:32 Vic: Push mail on Google cloud for free. Nokia has Webkit browsers; Android just passed all Symbian platforms in Web uses. Apple, Palm, Google many years ahead on that tree. What we want is for Nokia to have an updated Webkit browser and will change our business dramatically. Google looking for next generation of browser on Nokia.
3:33 Jon says: Opera Mini is most used browser on phones. A lot of people just want to get on the Internet. So Opera Mini works on just about every phone. As such, 20 million active users last month. 360 average pageviews per month. Why is it working so well? Going extremely fast.
3:35 More than just technology. About data plans, etc.
3:36 Moderator: If you were a carrier, what would you do? Demand growing like crazy; even wifi capability is increasing usage. Vic, do you have internal plan at Google when mobile search generates more revenue than PC-based search? Any colour on Japan. For Nokia, based on volume of devices that you make — Walmart of manufacturing phones — have both high and low end of market, how confident do you feel in Nokia’s ability to make best phones at lowest prices in next 5 years? Opera: Webkit uber alles? How do you feel about outlook for share? Feature phones still majority of phones, after all.
3:38 Nokia: Shipped 250-plus milion phones. One is shift to apps and services in general. Decided to invest in those. First, enabling third-party ecosystem, and doing some things ourselves — music, gaming, media, messaging, maps and navigation. Quite another of announcements this year, some as product. For us, also interesting: How to we leverage lower end in this game? One example: Nokia life (live?) tools piloting in India trying to help farmers. Maintaining scale and trying to add value. More and more investment into software and services.
3:40 Opera: 58% growth last year, 69% growth last quarter. Clearly demand for our products. (Revenue growth.) Announced three major things: Deal with Yahoo where we included Yahoo mobile. Global agreement with Vodafone. Opera Turbo. Vodafone tried Opera Mini in Egypt. 400,000 users in one month. Shows interest in the demand. Smartphone segment is extemely fun to work with, but only 15% of the market. Would like to be part of the 85%.
3:42 Google has internal goals. Unbelievable mobile usage in Japan, including Google search. That mobile growth continues to meet our projections, very excited about where it’s going, especially given times that we’re living in. Growth has been stunning, largely driven by iPhone, BlackBerry, Android, where Web really matters. Do have other apps at Google. What’s different vs. PC? Focused mobile engineering… phones know where you are, camera, microphone, etc.
3:45 Goal to grow advertising at Google. Nokia thinks will be significant too. Other opptys like payment systems.
3:45 Nokia: Netbook is interesting: People coming down from notebook world migrating down. Also mobiles migrating up. Difference is going to be if you take a few years’ view, will be impossible to say: Does that category exist? Will be overtaken by notebooks? Phones moving up? Nokia’s strategy having richer and richer capabilities in high end phones.
3:48 Vic. Question was who’s going to win about netbooks. Don’t think OS going to be that important. Those company whose strength comes from OS (Microsoft!) most scared of netbooks. If Nokia has a netbook with great browser, Google will run fine on it. Emergence of Web and cloud, low-cost entry points for people to get into.
3:49 Many initiatives where Google has invested a lot of money in platforms and then turned it over as open source. By making Android open source, anyone can build internet phone at this level. Raising bar because costs nothing to adopt. If building OS, have to build end to end experience. We’re in there for as long a time as open source has been there. Trying to change dynamics of entire industry.
3:52 How about carriers? Nokia: Some examples of what we are doing… push email, package with carrier to consumer, recurring revenue. Expect that carriers will play a role, more standardization of what works in the marketplace and what doesn’t.
3:56 Vic: MetroPCS has huge traffic to Google because their data plan is cheap.
3:57 Panel over.