How Europe missed the mobile wave

  • Jean Paul Simon
  • Info, June 2016, Emerald
  • DOI: 10.1108/info-02-2016-0006

How Europe missed the mobile wave

What is it about?

The purpose of this paper is to provide an interpretative framework for the high market capitalisation companies (unicorns) universe, especially with the deployment of the mobile internet. The paper attempts to account for this global trend and to describe its global setting (global data), and its various components.

Why is it important?

The paper defined unicorns as information technology (IT)-based (software mostly but hardware as well) start-ups that bridge pent-up demand and supply through innovative services and products mostly rooted in the mobile internet wave and the opportunities it brings along. The paper shows that smartphones as games changers facilitate the entry of new players in the mobile markets coming either from the IT sector or from Asia, much to the detriment of the European Union (EU) industry grappling with legacy business models. These companies derived the most from a mobile-first approach and have an outstanding number of unicorns. The paper identifies a potential telecom policy failure especially in the EU: policies have been tilted towards the supply side, without enough consideration of demand. The paper suggests that the EU, after having lead the previous wave, may have missed the last one (mobile broadband) not only from a policy but also from an industry viewpoint.


jean paul simon
JPS Public Policy Consulting

The main assumption about the role of the mobile internet can shed some lights not only about related developments such as the app economy but also about the business and technological environment of an array of start-ups, some of them having reached impressive market capitalisation. The paper reveals how this mobile wave is reshuffling companies, sectors, and geographies. The paper provides one of the first analysis of the unicorn phenomenon.

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