Operators seek gold in wireless data

Consumers are where the business is

Mobile network operators must build up their data traffic if they want to continue growing their revenues, but most of the opportunity to do this is in the consumer area, not the business market, according to Yankee Group director Declan Lonergan.

"A lot of focus has been on the enterprise market, with business usage forecast to drive 3G, but we can't see that in our figures," says Lonergan, who follows the European mobile wireless market. He predicts that enterprise applications will capture just 10% of the European mobile data business by 2007.

"We see consumer messaging applications, including mobile gaming, driving most of the operators' success and focus," he says, adding that some European network operators already get as much as 20% of their revenue from SMS.

Yankee Group research suggests that although wireless email is widely touted as the killer app for mobile data, the addressable market for this is only 20% to 30% of all companies. Even the most popular device of its kind today, RIM's Blackberry email pager, only has half a million users.

Lonergan notes though that because today's enterprise mobile data market is very small, getting it to 10% of the total will represent enormous growth. Plus it is a loyal business, so it should still be profitable for mobile operators and hardware, software and services companies alike.

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