Wireless marches on

Bluetooth and GPRS are poised to drive handset capabilities. This new technology, will drive new content, application and billing models that will shape the future of the wireless market.

Soaring demand for always on, all day wireless connection to the Internet, new billing models and new content and applications will stimulate exceptional growth in the European market for mobile devices, according to a recent Frost & Sullivan report.

The introduction of new technologies, such as WAP, GPRS and Bluetooth, will be a boon for web-enabled wireless devices, turning mobile access into a more user-friendly experience.

The new technology will help to alleviate some of the limitations, including the poor performance and usability, of the first WAP phones, according Jan ten Sythoff, program manager at Frost & Sullivan.

The European mobile devices business is valued at $23.7 billion in 1999. It can be expected to leap to $48.8 billion in 2006.

Shipments will more than double from 103.2 million units to 212.0 million within the same period of time.

By 2001, Bluetooth products would have reached critical mass. And as the era of the mobile Internet dawns, a whole host of new applications and content will become available on the mobile handset.

Advanced capabilities, including all types of mobile communications, business productivity applications, entertainment, information and mobile commerce will be available as sales of WAP, GPRS and UMTS handsets surge.

Faster data transfer speeds and increased bandwidth provided by next-generation networks will have a positive knock-on effect on the development of non-voice applications. 2.5 and 3G networks will enhance viability of new applications such as graphics, music and other multimedia uses.

Upgrading a wireless device will become an important selling point. Operators will significantly push upgrade-sales of devices capable of using next-generation networks, enabling them to swiftly yield return on investment.

Manufacturers will slash prices to drive adoption rates. With voice prices declining due to stiffening competition and pressure from industry organizations, mobile communications will become more affordable to the mass market.

New billing models mark a milestone in the rapid expansion of data usage. The arrival of General Packet Radio Services (GPRS) and third-generation (3G) technologies will shift billing models from airtime-based to content-based models.

The author continues: "As the mobile internet advertising market is getting off the ground, users will enjoy a number of services for free if they agree to a number of adverts or products pushed onto them."

Frost & Sullivan forecasts that in 2006, the proportion of mobile operator revenues derived from non-voice services will be in excess of 45 percent. By then the top applications will be unified messaging, entertainment and information services.

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