Five Predictions On Digital In Asia

I was in Dalian, China last month at the World Economic Forum's summer event where I moderated a panel on Digital Asia. The punch line: Asia will be a center of digital innovation . . . counter-balancing the US.

My panel included Wang Jianzhou, Chairman of the biggest cell phone operator in the world (China Mobile), Takeshi Natsuno, the founder of iMode at DoCoMo, Michelle Guthrie, Director of Goggle Asia Pacific, and other distinguished panel members. You can watch our conversation on YouTube. Here are the panel’s five predictions about Asia and digital:

1. Asia will lead the world into the use of e-money.

Consumers in Hong Kong -- with their Octopus card -- and Singapore and Japan -- with the FeliCa system -- already use this technology and are thriving on its efficiency and convenience. This is an opportunity for Asia to demonstrate digital leadership.

2. The digital divide in Asia will shrink.

Data from Forrester suggests that this transformation is already taking place. Internet adoption is up across Asia this year – increasing 9% in India and 13% in China. Mobile internet adoption is growing too – up 12% in China and 10% in India.

3. Internet in Asia will become more local.

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Apps Beat Web

In January of 2011, Forrester's research showed that tablet owners used the Web far more than apps on their device. Over the last few weeks, visitors to my blog indicated that apps had passed the Web (check out the results at left).

Now this survey was not scientifically significant, but it's another signal that users are shifting away from browsers to apps. Why? Better experience, speed, ease of use. The App Internet approaches. 

Steve

At a conference of CIOs that I attended this morning in Lisbon, all of our group were reflective and emotionally affected by the news of Jobs’ death – many heartfelt words were spoken from the stage, as they have been on stages, social networks, phone calls, and conversations all over the world today. And as we all mourned, many of us were literally holding Steve in our hands as we communicated via iPads, iPhones, Keynote, and Macs.
 
Steve leaves a vast and extraordinary legacy and I will let the more eloquent pay tribute. But I will make a prediction and I will express a hope.
 
I believe that we will look back at the 2002-2011 period as a golden age of technology – driven by Jobs at his most visionary. All of the promise of digital was finally being delivered in a way that was truly powerful, simple, and matched to human beings. I predict that we won’t see such an outpouring again for decades. 
 
But I hope that I am wrong. My hope is that Steve inspires all of us in the technology business to stop creating confusing, poorly-designed, slow, complex, ugly, maddening products that weigh down rather than lift up the work and souls of people. My hope is that Apple’s next ten years are more insanely great than its last and that its competitors are inspired to keep or exceed the pace. My hope is that Steve’s lessons will bring about a better world.
 
To the Apple and Jobs families, Forrester sends its best thoughts.