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The Age of Mobile

When Apple announced its Q1 2012 results, I was stunned. Literally, honestly, blown away. And I believe that most people have not yet understood what these numbers actually meant. I wanted to call this post "The Age of Apple", but it isn't really about Apple at all. It is about a new industry, one that will shape the world for decades to come.

The new face of Apple

The first thing one has to understand is that the development of Apple is an unprecented one. To appreciate that, all one has to do is look at the numbers. Here is how Apple's revenues have skyrocketed within the last seven years:

Today, Apple's profits have outgrown Google's revenues. In fact, Apple's revenues are worth three Yahoos, two Googles and one Microsoft. What is important to understand is that this hasn't always been the case. In fact, this development is an extremely recent one. Apple is not the company it used to be only five years ago. It is an entirely different company today.

Let us look back in time: A mere three years ago (Q1 2009), Apple's revenue was at $12 billion, and its profit was at $2.3 billion. In Q1 2012, Apple's announced revenue had almost quadrupled to $46 billion, and its profit more than quadrupled to $13 billion.

The old Apple—the technology company—is still somewhere at the heart of this new company. But it represents only a fraction of its cashflow and a fraction of its market capitalization today. The new Apple is not a technology company anymore. It's a mobile company.

The world's first mobile company

I've long advocated that life was going mobile. What I mean by that is that the mobile internet is a transformative force, reshaping the way we communicate, the way we work, and—ultimately— the way we live.

The mobile market is going to be the largest market in the history of human civilization. It is expanding more rapidly than any market known to man, and it will reach $4 billion people in the foreseeable future. We are talking one market, one channel—the mobile internet—, one infrastructure, one technology.

The potential inherent in mobile is unprecedented and often still underestimated. Mobile will boost the whole internet industry, like a balloon that just received a fresh shot of hot new air. It is only natural to expect the first mover in that largest market in the history of mankind to become an unstoppable juggernaught.

That company is Apple. By releasing the first iPhone, Apple has repositioned itself as the world's first mobile company. It has reinvented itself and transformed both the mobile phone and the internet industry. It has made possible what Nokia, RIM, and the likes have failed to accomplish. It is no longer selling computers, it is selling the world's first successful mobile ecosystem: iOS.

Going with the stampede

Today, Apple is conquering new terrain. It is rapidly penetrating the market it has set out to create. Others can only follow. But there is a lot to be won, and the pie keeps expanding.

Google has managed to position itself as No. 2, and it is following Apple in the footsteps of the stampede, holding its head up high. Others have lost the battle, and are now hopelessly left behind.

But remember how technological revolutions happen. The infrastructure battle is being fought on conquered ground. Apple's and Google's voracious appetites will eat much of the infrastructure business. But there is still plenty of opportunity in the application layer.

Mobile is the new internet. Understand and act accordingly.

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