The mobile economy has exceeded expectations with its rapid pace of growth over the past decade. The global mobile economy is currently $1.6 trillion and will reach $2 trillion by 2017. The success of the mobile economy rests on the creation of a platform of technologies. Devices equipped with broadband Internet connections power applications that make entire categories of interactions more efficient. Mobile applications make people more productive and innovative, freeing them from the tether of stationary computers. The explosive growth in the mobile economy has created barriers to further advances and exacerbated other issues. Government officials will need to address these problems to realize the full potential of the mobile economy.
Challenges to Improvement
- The growing popularity of mobile devices has placed huge demands on available bandwidth. There is not enough spectrum dedicated for mobile broadband Internet. This problem will only get worse over time.
- Lack of respect for the rule of law is a major barrier to innovation. Many countries still have not committed to strong intellectual property protections.
- Inventors fail more often than not. America has a myopic focus on funding and supporting winners. There is concern that a “lack of stomach” for failing could ultimately stymie the efforts of innovators.
- Mobile devices collect personal information and current privacy protection laws need to protect the data generated by smart phones.
Smart Policies to Build the Mobile Economy
- The International Telecommunication Union should make new spectrum bands available for use by mobile broadband services. This will help to ameliorate the mobile bandwidth crunch.
- The United States should negotiate intellectual property protections and pro-digital trade policies into trade negotiations like the Trans-Pacific Partnership and Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership.
- Government policies should promote growth but also be technology neutral. Technology is a sector where consumers need to choose what works and what does not.
- Creating an intellectual property market could help encourage creativity and reduce the need for companies to horde patents. A marketplace could create new revenue sources for companies and could more efficiently distribute intellectual property to innovators.
- Support the creation of standard-essential patents. Standards promote economic growth and innovation by making ready to use technologies available to inventors.
Overcoming these challenges with smart policies is critical to not only growing the global economy but also to help traditionally disadvantaged communities. Mobile devices have a unique flexibility to connect people in the developing world to financial systems. They can help improve the quality of healthcare delivery, connect people to educational content, and allow governments to engage their citizens. The state of the mobile economy is strong and further growth will likely lead to unforeseen and fantastic benefits.