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Vodafone chief tells mobile users he knows where they live

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CTIA Wireless Vodafone CEO Arun Sarin believes that wireless users will happily opt-in to mobile advertising. And he plans to reward them by reducing their monthly bill.

Either that or he's found a diplomatic way of saying that users won't opt-in unless they get their money up front. We can't quite tell.

"In a few years, mobile advertising will account for a substantial portion of the revenues of our business, and we as operators have to be prepared to share some of the advertising revenues, who will by-in-large want to opt-in to these offerings," he told mobile industry insiders during his morning keynote at he annual CTIA wireless trade show in Las Vegas.

Echoing a keynote he made earlier this year at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Sarin also told the mobile industry it needs to simplify itself, calling for fewer mobile operating systems and consolidated high-speed network standards.

The Vodafone boss began his speech by informing show attendees that Richard Branson was lying to them when he said that Google and Virgin were sending them to Mars in a solar-powered Noah's Ark. "I understand that, yesterday, Richard Branson regaled you with ideas about Mars and travels to far-off places," he said. "I would remind you that today is April 2nd."

Then he said that this mobile internet thing could be big. "In the last twelve months, there has been something quite different and not the norm - a change that I believe will shape the future development of the [wireless] industry. It will change who the successful companies are going to be. And it will determine success versus failure for the whole industry. And that development is the mobile internet. Internet on the mobile phone is the New Thing."

That may seem obvious. But remember: Sarin was speaking to an American industry that spent years doing their best to fend-off the openness of the internet. They also believed that Google was going to Mars by 2016.

Sarin even went so far as to say that the mobile internet could eclipse the stationary internet. This will happen, he explained, because the mobile internet is mobile. "Mobility is our key differentiator," he told the mobile industry. "If we can deliver an excellent mobile internet experience, mobile can become the main method of accessing the internet in society over a period of time."

According to Sarin, an excellent mobile experience requires three things: fewer mobile OSes, fewer 4G standards, and more advertisements.

The mobile internet won't reach its potential, he said, unless phones deliver "world-class user experience." And this won't happen with "dozens" of mobile operating systems competing for phones.

"We have to find, as an industry, a way of bringing the number of mobile operating systems down from the dozens to maybe three, four, five. I didn't say one. Because we've seen that movie before. But three, four, five, so we can actually achieve economies of scale when developing applications. Whether it's [Google] Android or Microsoft [Windows Mobile] or Symbian or Linux or others."

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