20 September 2002 -- Mobile operator data services revenue - traffic and data applications - is set to increase from EUR12.2bn in 2002 to EUR34.9bn in 2006, according to a recent study by IDC.
"Networks are in place but operators have not extensively marketed packet-based services," said Paolo Pescatore, Senior Analyst from IDC's European Mobile and Wireless Communications service. "Fundamentally, operators have to market these services to start educating users and making the migration towards UMTS as seamless as possible."
GPRS is here, but the situation has not changed much from last year. "There was and still is a lot of promise of GPRS but a lack of marketing of services has meant a delay in take-up," said Pescatore. "In Europe, most operators are offering GPRS services, which were initially marketed at corporate users but are now being offered to consumers. However, what we have seen is a lack of interest or no consumer demand for it."
With UMTS, no one could have envisaged the problems operators were due to face. No operator has launched commercial UMTS services except for the small (MM02) operation in the Isle of Man, UK. Following big auctions in the UK and then in Germany, governments have been unable to attract enough bidders, resulting in lower proceeds and operators requesting to share network infrastructure and delay in the roll-out of networks.
"All elements have contributed to a state of uncertainty in the European wireless market," said Pescatore. "Many operators are owned by pan-European companies such as the Vodafone Group, Deutsche Telekom's T-Mobile subsidiary, France Telecom's Orange Group, and MM02 (BT's former mobile subsidiary), which have experienced tumbling valuations, and those seeking stock market listings delaying IPOs until market conditions improve."
In the mbrowser space interesting developments are shaping the market. One is WAP versus i-Mode. There is certainly a battle going on from an operator's perspective to acquire customers. Those operators deploying i-Mode will use it as a means to increase their market shares and at the same time increase usage.
"The aim is not to compete with one technology or the other, but to ensure the adoption of common technical architecture and protocols," Pescatore said (see IDC's report Uncovering the i-Mode Phenomenon - Lessons for Europe, 2001 ref. IDC HW40H).
Another is the increasing emergence of Java. "Fundamentally, Java opens up the wireless market. It allows applications to run on a number of multiple devices, which has proved to be difficult to achieve in recent years. The consumer segment represents a major opportunity as applications such as gaming and location-based services will be widely adopted."
The study, Mobile Data Platforms and Services in Western Europe: Forecast and Analysis, 2001-2006, ref IDC HW03J, analyzes the market for mobile data services in Western Europe. Included within the study are forecasts and analyses of mobile subscribers, SMS, mobile data services, and mbrowsers. The study is specifically aimed at mobile operators, equipment manufacturers, mobile solutions providers and content providers to better understand the marketplace and potential take-up of data services in Western Europe.
To purchase this document, contact your local IDC office or visit www.idc.com