The mobile Internet and the app economy – Flash 05 2018

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Consolidated programme 2018 overview

Session teaser

The Internet becomes mobile, as smartphones, tablets and other portable devices are the main means of access. Time spent by users on Apps is increasing and already accounts for over 52% of the total time spent on the Internet. Despite the wide availability of free and paid Apps, existing restrictions to development cause uneven distribution of economic benefits (95% estimated industry captured by just the top 10 producing countries) and increasing inequalities. This flash session will discuss the topic with regards to current proposals for legislation of platforms, from the perspective of creating a level playing field and how to seek a technology neutral, future-proof framework in Europe which allows European actors to compete on a global scale.

Keywords

app economy, smartphone, digital economy, Internet

Session description

The Internet becomes mobile, as smartphones, tablets and other portable devices are the main means of access. Time spent by users on Apps is increasing and already accounts for over 52% of the total time spent on the Internet. Despite the wide availability of free and paid Apps, existing restrictions to development cause uneven distribution of economic benefits (95% estimated industry captured by just the top 10 producing countries) and increasing inequalities. The platforms created through the mobile economy are changing the economic landscape of the Internet. The catch-all effects has led to the creation of fewer, but bigger players dominating this field.

With the development of 5G technology and the increased introduction of Internet of Things, this economy will likely get a new boom. For example, 4G networks which have already been around for some time and are now widespread in many industrialized nations, offer data speeds that are 12,000 times faster than the speeds of 2G. Additionally, costs for mobile subscription per megabyte of transmitted data fell 99% from 2005 to 2013, and smartphones are now available for as little as $40. The reason mobility is so affordable: scale. In less than 15 years, adoption of 3G and 4G technology has grown to nearly 3 billion connections, and that number is expected to exceed 8 billion by 2020, according to a report by the Boston Consulting Group (2015).

Where is the development going? Demand for increasing data speeds and volume will continue. At the same time, there is a vulnerable component in this development. Companies focused on mobile’s core technologies invest a larger share of revenue (21%) in R&D than any other industry except biotechnology – and more than all other R&D-heavy industries. And there is no guarantee these investments will pay off.

That raises new questions about how to ensure continued investment and development of the mobile economy. Essential conditions raised in the debate are among other things fair competition – which in turn is essential for continued investments and to ensure consumer as well as societal benefits. Linked to this aspect is strong protection of IPRs (Intellectual Property Rights). This flash session will discuss the continued development of the mobile economy with regards to investment in infrastructure, current proposals for legislation of platforms, from the perspective of creating a level playing field and how to seek a technology neutral, future-proof framework in Europe which allows European actors to compete on a global scale.

Format

Samoan Circle

A Samoan circle is similar to a fishbowl in that active participants sit surrounded by listeners. It is a leaderless format, whereby anyone who wants to talk may step forward to enter the inner circle.

They can enter the inner circle at any time, including to stop somebody else from talking. Participants must retire when prompted. The format is ideal for making sure many viewpoints get heard, however clear topics of discussion are needed to ensure conversation does not dry up.

Further reading

People

Kristina Olausson, ETNO