The future of the internet is mobile...

Dr. Philip Sugai at International University Japan's Mobile Consumer Lab points to a recent report from IBM, which predicts that "Worldwide adoption of the mobile phone as the preferred device for accessing the Internet is just around the corner."

I think we can already see this today among young consumers and in developing countries, where cheap cell phones are more readily available than PCs with internet connections. To quote William Gibson: "The future is already here; it just isnt' evenly distributed yet."

Philip points out that the interfaces for mobile internet should not be the same as those we use for other media - they should leverage the strengths of mobile devices. He points to the example of Amazon Japan, which lets its mobile site's users navigate to its product pages by scanning the barcodes on DVDs or books that they come across in the real world.

I believe that another idea with great potential for mobile devices is "image search" or "visual search" - D2 Communications is developing new types of image search as alternatives to the text-based search engines that are more suited to PCs than they are to mobile devices. Imagine being able to snap a photograph of an item with your phone and quickly receiving relevant information in return. Today it works within certain limited categories (for example, D2 has launched a search engine that can identify wines from their labels). I think there's huge potential for mobile phones that provide contextual support, triggered by location, images, sounds or other non-text based inputs.

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