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No killer app, but mobile data will boom

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Mobile consumer applications are to drive the take-up of data services and generate traffic and revenues for mobile operators, according to a new study. Mobile phone-delivered services such as gaming, ringtones, video, and music will be worth just under €8bn in Western Europe in 2008, according to research from technology research firm IDC.

After years of deploying expensive higher-speed data networks, based on UMTS (3G) and GPRS (2.5G), mobile operators are banking on data to bring in massive amounts of high-margin revenues. In fact the report from IDC echoes operators' own sentiments, and to some degree it helps to validate the push now underway among telecoms to get customers to use new data services.

The "Western European Consumer Mobile Data Applications" study, which analyses the opportunities for consumer mobile data applications, also notes that mobile operators are seeking new ways of differentiating themselves in some countries as they strive to gain a head start in the data game.

"It is clear from the usage patterns of SMS that people are willing to pay for mobile content such as ringtones and wallpaper provided they see value in those services," Paolo Pescatore, senior analyst at IDC told ElectricNews.Net.

Vodafone is bolstering its content, O2 has introduced video services and the first over-the-air music service, and DoCoMo continues to roll out its i-mode service in Europe, notes the survey. However, this mixed bag of mobile services underlines the lack of a "killer app" that many are "still seeking and talking about", said Pescatore.

"It is very much a cocktail and these applications will drive usage over GPRS, EDGE, UMTS, and HSDPA. All these applications - ringtones, gaming, video, and music - will eventually find their place on a mobile," said Pescatore. Some applications, including ringtones and gaming, have already found their place, but video and music will take longer," he added.

Pescatore also noted that the re-distribution of licensed content delivered to mobile phones could erode revenues and result in tension between content providers and mobile operators. "If mobile content is sold, downloaded and then redistributed illegally, then this is definitely a potentially contentious issue," he concluded.

© ENN

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