In 2009, Portio Research counted the global value of 'non messaging' premium content (music, gaming, news, etc) downloaded or consumed on phones and sold to them worldwide, to be worth 85 Billion dollars. Yes, 250 times bigger opportunity for any content owner like say a Disney or TimeWarner or Turner etc to make money today, on ALL phones, not those few iPhones that are in pockets of some 4% of Americans and less than half of one percent of the rest of the world. Understand how enormous this number is. Just 'premium' mobile data income (I am excluding messaging) is bigger than ALL internet content revenues, and all internet advertising income - added together! (Morgan Stanley said they totalled 64B dollars in 2009). Mobile content alone, is worth more than all global cinema box office revenues, and all global videogaming industry software income, and all global music industry income - PUT TOGETHER. Again? Mobile data paid content industry is bigger that music, hollywood and videogames, all added together. Its that big. And some crazy journalists count free downloads on App Stores and think this is the mobile data opportunity for the industry. Now in our zoo we are obsessing about the standard field mouse rather than the elephant.
But even this is not the real comparison. I just said, that Portio measured 'non messaging' premium content revenues for mobile. What of the total mobile data industry? It is now worth over 284 BILLION dollars globally, including messaging income (says Morgan Stanley). Thats 825 times bigger in value than all apps stores. Its not mouse to an elephant in our zoo, it is focusing on the ant and ignoring the elephant.
I kept trying to figure out different parts of Tomi's article to quote, and realized I was selecting the whole thing. You really do need to read the whole thing to understand where the mobile industry is today (and it is gigantic).
However, I think Tomi (who is fantastically smart and knowledgeable about the global mobile telecoms industry) is missing where this is all heading. I saw the same thing happen at Nortel when the bitheads (me and other people in the IP everywhere camp - death of scarcity) bumped into the bellheads (telecoms thinking, more similarities to railroads, supply & demand).
App stores are small from a global perspective, from a total industry perspective, even though on a micro scale many individual developers and services are making millions of dollars. It is, however, an Internet based business. There is flat ground in all directions, and anyone can build there. There are no bottlenecks, there are no checkpoints or speed traps to slow you down (aka mobile operators, government regulation, or even worse, government-run mobile operators).
The future is not mobile telecoms, which is the picture that Tomi paints today. The future is Internet + identity + payment, and app stores will figure heavily in that future.
But, if you can figure out a way to sell into the GIGANTIC mobile telecoms market today - go do it, just focus on the Internet end goal that I believe is inevitable.