Analyst group Gartner has predicted that sales of 3G phones will be poor this Christmas because the devices have failed to grab consumers' attention, a charge that mobile phone operator 3 has strongly refuted.
In a report published on Tuesday, Gartner warned that 3G mobile phones could suffer from over-supply and a lack of demand during the lucrative fourth quarter.
Carolina Milanesi, principal analyst for mobile terminals research at Gartner UK, said 3G handsets face a lack of demand this Christmas, partly due to an unclear marketing message.
"Gartner predicts a build up in handset inventory — which will affect 3G mobile phones in particular — as mobile operators, especially in Western Europe, will fail to convince consumers that Christmas this year will be a 3G Christmas," Milanesi said.
This, Milanesi claimed, is because users aren't impressed with the functionality offered by a 3G phone.
"We're still missing a reason for 3G, do users really care? They don't notice if it takes 30 seconds to download a song or not," Milanesi argued.
The mobile phone industry has experienced a few false starts with 3G. But 3, the first operator to launch 3G services in the UK, hit out at Gartner's claims.
A spokesman for 3 said the analyst had clearly misinterpreted the success of 3, both globally and locally, and was patronising 3G customers' knowledge of the technology.
"There has been a clear lack of understanding of where we are in the market. Our customers clearly understand Web access, video messaging, TV and games," the 3 spokesman said.
The 3 spokesman added that he disagreed with Gartner's claim that people didn't have a reason to move to 3G. "We have 10 million customers globally and at least 3.2 million in the UK, which I think is a clear demonstration of 3G's success in the market," he stated.