The arrival of a truly mobile Web, offering a new generation of location-based advertising, is set to unleash a huge revolution, Google Inc Chief Executive Eric Schmidt said on Friday.
It's the recreation of the Internet, it's the recreation of the PC (personal computer) story and it is before us -- and it is very likely it will happen in the next year, he told a panel at the World Economic Forum.
Current estimates for mobile advertising are cautious, with consultancy Forrester predicting revenues of under $1 billion by 2012.
But Schmidt said this figure was too low and failed to take into account the fact the mobile Web was reaching a tipping point.
Google aims to be a prime mover by bidding for coveted airwaves to launch an open U.S. wireless network, pitting it against established telecommunications players. The move will take the Silicon Valley-based company well beyond its core Web search and online advertising franchises.
Some analysts are worried at the high costs involved but Schmidt said he was confident location-based advertising -- which could, for example, direct hungry travelers to nearby restaurants -- would be a very, very good business.
Content providers, already struggling in the modern world of music and film downloads, are less convinced that mobile Internet is a minefield.
It is not going to be easy to hang on the price of content, said Howard Stringer, chief executive of Sony Corp.