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Currently, only a tiny proportion of people with business mobile phones use their handsets for e-mail, but Analysys says this is about to change.

The telecoms consultancy has said that in 2008, 40 percent of the 21 million Western Europeans who own business-centric mobile phones, 8.4 million users, will access their e-mail over their handsets. This figure is a considerable jump from less than 1 percent currently. Over the same period, the annual mobile service revenue generated by e-mail will increase from €49 million in 2003 to €2.9 billion.

"Businesses have been slow to start using mobile networks for services other than voice," says Katrina Bond, lead author of the report. "But mobile e-mail is set to lead the way as solutions to enable this valuable extension to existing person-to-person communications become more widespread."

In the report, which details various mobile e-mail tools such as Microsoft's Exchange Server 2003, RIM's BlackBerry solution and the NokiaOne solution, Analysys says that no single mobile e-mail package will dominate.

The report also claims that companies that run applications on their intranets, particularly specialist applications such as sales force automation (SFA), will be big revenue drivers for companies that provide mobile data services. This is because increasing service revenue will come from general Web access over mobile networks, not e-mail alone, said Bond. "However, mobile Web access alone will not be enough to convince businesses to start using mobile data services," she warned.

In fact, the report said that businesses will begin to use mobile devices for all sorts of Internet-based, non-voice services and spending by Western European companies on mobile data services will hit €8.1 billion by 2008, up from €1.8 billion in 2003. Interestingly, small and medium-sized businesses are to account for 78 percent of that spend, Analysys said.

© ENN

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