Back in the year 2000, I was interviewing prospective telecoms strategy consultants. I asked them what they thought 3G would be used for. Some said video calling. Some talked about watching TV and movies on handsets. Some said purchasing music or checking email on the move. Nobody mentioned anything like WhatsApp, Twitter, Facebook or Snapchat. Nobody mentioned anything like Pokémon Go. Nobody mentioned anything like Google Maps.
This was four years before Apple even began work on the iPhone. So it’s understandable that none of the candidates predicted applications that depended on smartphones with touchscreens, cameras and GPS. But once the smartphone was invented, millions of innovative applications were developed, and some of them have made much impact on people’s lives.
What has enabled this innovation to happen? First, there is a huge market opportunity – there are more than 5 billion end users with connected devices. And second, there are very low barriers for innovators to bring new applications to market – the open internet provides a ready-made global distribution platform. Innovations that create value can rapidly become highly successful and the rewards for successful innovators are high. So, many of the world’s most creative people are motivated to work hard and to take entrepreneurial risks.
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- Thursday, 26 January 2017