Goodbye landlines, hello digital shoplifting?

The changes mobile phones are bringing to the way we live and do business may be much more drastic than many realise."Digital shoplifting" using mobile phones will become enough of a problem for retailers and their industry organisations to start running awareness campaigns against it by end-2004 to early-2005, an analyst claims.

The changes mobile phones are bringing to the way we live and do business may be much more drastic than many realise.

"Digital shoplifting" using mobile phones will become enough of a problem for retailers and their industry organisations to start running awareness campaigns against it by end-2004 to early-2005, an analyst claims.

Jason Juma-Ross, an analyst with AMR Interactive, told journalists at a special briefing that digital shoplifting -- illicit photographing using a mobile phone of text or images from publications sold at retail outlets -- and subsequent widespread distribution via the Internet was an emerging problem.

The analyst's claims indicate the extent to which the piracy problem presently plaguing the music industry could spread to other sectors.

Juma-Ross also said that the mobile telecommunications space was poised to undergo a "quiet revolution" characterised by increased pricing competition, spiralling churn and fixed-to-mobile substitution over the next one to two years.

He told journalists attending a media forum in Queensland there was a phenomenal amount of price pressure on the market.

He pointed out that 2.35 million Australians last year either upgraded to or purchased a new handset, a figure with significant ramifications for churn levels.

Only 3 to 4 percent of Australians did not have landlines, a number that lagged well behind countries such as Finland, where the figure was around the 30 percent mark.

Telecommunications companies in future risked losing not just the landline business, but their entire customer relationship, due to volatility and competitiveness in the market.

He noted as an emerging trend the fact that, as mobile data becomes more critical, the need for disaster recovery solutions was increasing.

A couple of small vendors in Sydney were working on solutions, such as a SIM toolkit solution for disaster recovery designed for residential mobiles.

He said the mobile content market was likely to remain quite stable over the coming year or so, with interest in Java games and video over phones moderate.

Telstra's Greg Young detailed to the forum a push-to-talk service by which a mobile phone adopts many of the functions of a walkie-talkie or two-way radio.

He said the service would allow individual users to talk to a number of other users grouped on either a defined or ad-hoc basis. Telstra saw a good market opportunity in the youth and consumer markets for the service in 6-12 months' time.