What exactly is the "mobile Internet" and what does it include? WAP/mobile Web, apps, SMS, Internet sites rendered on mobile browsers? Regardless of the definition, and what's in or out, one might see the apps phenomenon as the construction of a distinct universe of content for mobile devices within the larger world of the Internet.
Over the course of the past week there has been much discussion of mobile apps vs. the mobile Web, prompted by remarks made by Google's Vic Gundotra about the mobile Web winning out over apps over time. Today, the BBC's Maggie Shields has a piece on mobile apps becoming "as big as the Internet" and then declining:
"Apps will be as big if not bigger than the internet," according to Ilja Laurs, chief executive of GetJar, a leading independent application store.
"They will peak at around 100,000 by the end of the year. That will be a tipping point and after that there will be a gradual fall in the rate of development.
"The full blossom will come in ten years and mobile apps will become as popular as websites are today with consumers," Mr Laurs told BBC News.
Mobile apps are the effective equivalent of PC websites. But the question of what the "mobile Internet" looks like over time and how prominent apps are will in part depend on whether mobile apps developers can make a living. It will also depend on whether apps truly take hold beyond the iPhone on the other platforms. That will in turn depend partly on content development and software tools that enable developers to minimize the cost and complexity of writing software for multiple platforms.
There's no question that mobile apps offer a more compelling user experience than a PC Internet site simply rendered on a mobile device. This is especially true for branded applications that support customer loyalty (e.g., Pizza Hut's new iPhone app).