Mobile Is Going Viral. So Why Are Sequoia And Kleiner Crowing?

Mobile is finally coming into its own.

Mobile startups are reaching scale, with revenue of sometimes $100 million or more. Facebook and Zynga, once tethered to the wired Internet, are seeing massive mobile traffic.

And Internet radio service Pandora Media now gets more users from mobile devices than desktop computers, a reversal of the past few years.

So you might expect mobile investors such as Matt Murphy of Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and Jim Goetz of Sequoia Capital to be crowing. Well, they are.

Both appeared at the MobileBeat 2011 conference in San Francisco with a great deal of enthusiasm for the space.

Here’s the key take away from their on-stage discussion. Mobile hasn’t gone viral yet, says Murphy. It will.

One big technology trend that will help permit this is location-based services. Think of one big mobile opportunity as crowdsourced, or user-generated exchanges, says Murphy. Merchants and consumers want to reach each other in real time.

A daily deal site such as Groupon could be the facilitator. “Goupon is going to be wildly successful,” he says. Other companies that play in the space include Hotel Tonight, where people can book same-day hotels from their phones.

In a similar vein, the social graph built around mobile will be different than the one defined by Facebook, says Goetz (pictured above). There will be new ways for phone users to tap in.

What about leaders in the mobile apps space? Pandora, Shazam Entertainment (Kleiner is an investor), Square (both Kleiner and Sequoia are investors) and music service Spotify (Kleiner is an investor), says Murphy.

One minute, retorts Goetz. “I hesitate to point out who the breakout companies are. It’s still so early.” Fair enough.

What about incumbents? Most are struggling to move to the mobile market, Goetz adds. Why do you think PayPal agreed to buy mobile payments company Zong for $240 million earlier this month?

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