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3G trigger pulled on mobile phone firms

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Even though the World+Dog now has a mobile and millions are getting onto the Net, the average revenue per person from a mobile phone is set to fall and mobile companies will see operating profits slump. This will lead to forced consolidation of European companies and in seven years there will be only five companies in the market. And the spark is the cost of UMTS/3G technology.

This then is the view of the European mobile market by our favourite analysts Forrester (well, telecoms man Lars Godell). We had a shufty at the figures and assumptions and reckon Lars had got a fair point here. He's also backed up by recent business history which has seen more consolidation than ever before (which is, frankly, unhealthy).

Admittedly, it's not that exciting but it is good to see people producing realistic visions of the future instead of the typical Tomorrow's World nonsense ("we will stand on the scales in the morning and they will tell the fridge to order some low-fat goods" - this, honestly, is one that appeared this week. Bloody nonsense).

The theory runs: voice and messaging costs will be forced down by competition (people will use voice as a way of attracting people to new Net products and will do so at a loss), and the mobile market will hit saturation (i.e. your gran will never, ever want a mobile).

So the average income for a mobile user will go down and the market will not get any bigger. However the cost of the sexy 3G networks and the continued advertising in a competitive market will slash into profits.

And so, only the biggest will survive. Smaller companies will be bought out or sell out and we'll be left with just five across the whole of Europe. Lars reckons four of the five winners will be: Vodafone, T-Mobil, France Telecom/Orange, and BT Cellnet. The magic fifth will be one of the following: KPN, Telefónica, Telecom Italia, or NTT DoCoMo.

So there you have it. ®

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Forrester.com

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