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Java: the next mobile cash cow?

Milked for $15.5bn by 2008, pundits predict

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Mobile Java applications will generate over $15bn in annual revenue for mobile operators by 2008, according to researchers ARC Group. This figure will account for 12.4 per cent of all data revenues.

The sales of handsets running Java tripled in 2003, reaching sales of 95.5m, up from 32m in 2002. Even now, there is money to be made from Java aps, even if Europe is not the place to make it. Last year (2003) the Java market earned operators $1.4bn, but the vast majority of this income is generated in Japan and Korea. In Japan, for instance, 50 per cent of all handsets are Java-enabled.

This geographical split is not a question of technology availability, but of the willingness of the people to use it. ARC says that in Japan and Korea around 80 per cent of Java handsets sold in 2003 led to active Java users. In Europe, the take up rate is an unenthusiastic 10 per cent.

This will change over the next five years, however, as more kinds of applications become available. Malik Saadi, author of the report - Mobile Application Platforms and Operating Systems 2003-2008 - told El Reg: "By 2008, the majority of European users with java-enabled mobile devices will use java services at least once per month."

ARC estimates that entertainment accounted for 76 per cent of Java application volumes in 2003, but by 2008, it will be closer to 40 per cent: "The only Java applications widely available at the moment are games, and not every mobile phone consumer is a gamer," Saadi explains. "I think that applications such as Java messaging, infotainment are likely to be widespread by 2008 or soon after." ®

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