Top mobile execs to launch handset auction site

Mobile phone operators will soon be able to balance their stock inventory by selling surplus devices to each other, and consumers will reap the benefits
Written by Graeme Wearden, Contributor

Consumers could soon be offered a greater choice of mobile phone handsets if an online marketplace for mobile phone handsets, due to launch on Wednesday, is successful.

A number of top executives in the mobile phone world have teamed up to create the exchange, known as mloop. This B2B Web site will allow a mobile phone operator to sell some of its surplus inventory to another operator, who might be suffering from a shortage of certain models.

Mloop's backers include Charles Dunstone -- the founder of Carphone Warehouse -- and Simon Murray, formerly chief executive of Hutchison Whampoa. It is thought to be the first independent global exchange for mobiles.

According to reports, mloop has already received 400,000 bids for handsets. It is thought that the wholesale market in mobile phones could be worth up to £5.5bn per year. But, because of differing standards around the world, most handsets will only work in certain parts of the world and will be incompatible with other networks.

The mobile market, which in previous years has experienced spectacular growth, has been hit this year by a steep decline in the growth of demand. As manufacturers have been forced to cut jobs and close factories, the industry is looking to GPRS and the forthcoming 3G networks to provide a boost. Mloop could encourage mobile operators to make a leap of faith and offer a wide selection of new devices -- in the knowledge that they could be able to offload the inventory to another company if the gamble fails.

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