Vodafone dreaming of a 3G Christmas

But the UK market is still sluggish, and sales of handsets are outpacing mobile data cards

Third-generation mobile services could finally achieve mass market success this Christmas, Vodafone chairman Arun Sarin claimed on Monday.

In its latest financial results, Vodafone announced that it had sold 3.26 million 3G devices worldwide by 30 June 2005. This is an increase of over a million since 1 April 2005, indicating that 3G take-up is accelerating.

"Frankly I think it is going to be a 3G Christmas this year," Sarin told journalists, according to the Daily Telegraph.

3G services first hit the UK in 2003. Initially these were only offered by 3, but other mobile operators followed in 2004. High prices, lack of handset choice and a scarcity of compelling 3G services all played a part in holding back customer adoption.

Vodafone's figure do suggest that 3G take-up is still lacklustre in the UK, where just 282,000 3G devices have been sold to date.

Sales of 3G mobile data cards are also lagging behind sales of 3G phones — with Vodafone shifting 400,000 data cards versus 2.9 million handsets.

In other 3G news, 3 announced that it has launched its high-speed mobile service in Ireland. The company has also agreed to start selling Sony Ericsson's videophones, giving it a fourth supplier on top of NEC, Motorola and LG.