Mobile Internet to Dominate Within 5 Years -- Study

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The mobile Internet is growing faster than its desktop counterpart ever did, and more users may go online via mobile devices than desktop PCs within five years, according to a new study by investment firm Morgan Stanley.

The intriguing prediction is one of many in the firm's massive "The Mobile Internet Report," a 424-page epic that someone, somewhere is bound to read in its entirety. For the rest of us, the executive summary will do just fine. If you're interested in perusing the full report, you'll find it here.

The report states we're "now in the early innings" of mobile Internet development, which is growing faster than previous tech cycles, including the evolution of the desktop PC. Given the rapid adoption of smartphones, including (obviously) the Apple iPhone and a growing number of devices using Google's Android mobile operating system, Morgan Stanley's conclusions shouldn't surprise anyone.

The study also points out that mobile Net growth is global phenomenon, not one confined to the developed world, which was typically the case with prior tech trends. But despite the worldwide focus, U.S. companies including Apple, Google, and Amazon are taking a leadership role. Furthermore, "a host of relatively young, but seasoned world-class technology veterans," including Apple CEO Steve Jobs and Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg, are leading the mobile push, the report states.

Five key tech trends are converging to spur mobile Net growth, including 3G (and soon 4G) broadband, the popularity of social networking, online video, VOIP services such as Skype and Vonage, and "awesome mobile devices" that do tasks that until recently were the sole domain of your desktop or laptop PC.

The short term looks especially bright for Apple, but challenges await.

The "mobile ecosystem" of the iPhone, iPod touch, iTunes, and various accessories and services will continue to bloom over the next two years. After that, however, Google Android, competition from emerging markets, and wireless carrier limitations may pose a threat to Apple's market share, the report predicts.

There's little doubt the mobile Internet will dominate in the coming years--just look how far mobile handsets have come since the debut of the iPhone in 2007. Toss in a growing selection of rapidly improving smartphones, a new breed of wireless-ready tablet devices, e-readers like the Amazon Kindle, and faster 4G networks, and it's easy to see that mobile is the future of the Net.

Contact Jeff Bertolucci via Twitter (@jbertolucci ) or at .

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