"Mobile Eats the World"

The phrase “software eats the world,” coined by venture capitalist Marc Andreessen in 2011, might have an analogy: mobile eats the world. Already, mobile devices (smartphones and tablets) represent about half the value of consumer electronics sales.

Andreessen’s 2011 quip was meant to illustrate the principle that “we are in the middle of a dramatic and broad technological and economic shift in which software companies are poised to take over large swathes of the economy.”

The newer adage--”mobile eats the world”--is meant to illustrate the growing shift of human activity from tethered to untethered devices. “There is no point in drawing a distinction between the future of technology and the future of mobile:they are the same,” says Benedict Evans, also a venture capitalist.

By 2020, Evans argues, the number of people using the Internet, and the number of people using smartphones, will be identical. By about 2017, the percentage of people “not using the Internet” will be identical to the percentage of people “not using smartphones.”

By 2020, 80 percent of everyone on the planet will be using a smartphone, Evans predicts. Every year, at least 7.5 trillion messages are sent by people using mobile networks.In 2010, the U.S. telecommunications industry along employed about 900,000 people.

WhatsApp now supports at least 7.2 trillion messages a year. WhatsApp employs 30 engineers. That shows the relative advantage software firms have in cost structure, compared to capital-intensive industries such as telecommunications, that supply similar services.

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