IDC: Mobile Applications for Consumers is Where the Money Is

IDC’s new study “Western European Consumer Mobile Data Applications” analyses opportunities for consumer mobile data applications in the market – and I can’t say that we were very surprised by any of the findings. IDC believe that the current state of the market is a good reflection of what to expect in the future: mobile operators will be making cash out of selling small applications, ringtones and other widgets to phone owners, in a market worth an estimated €6.67 billion (US$8 billion).

“This underlines that the wireless industry will not see the one killer application that many are still seeking and talking about,” said Paolo Pescatore, senior analyst for IDC’s European Wireless and Mobile Communications Service. “It is very much a cocktail and these applications will drive usage over GPRS, EDGE, UMTS, and HSDPA. All these applications – ring tones, gaming, video, and music – will eventually find their place on a mobile.”

IDC rightly report that demand for video is not very high, currently – and is certainly dwarfed by consumer interest in games, ringtones and SMS “texting”. As video is not very satisfying on phones at the moment, the industry must be careful not to over-hype the service or mislead consumers into thinking that they will be watching TV quality visuals on their mobile any time soon.

Operators will need to offer engaging content, the report says, and that means that they’re going to have to spend considerable amounts of money and resources securing the rights for that material, whilst partnering up with content houses.

IDC express surprise at the lack of music services for mobile users, and believe that people’s interest in music, coupled with mobility, presents a compelling reason to offer music services. IDC believe it will just take a bit longer, with operators rolling out services towards the end of the year.

The IDC study

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Fraser Lovatt

Fraser Lovatt has spent the last fifteen years working in publishing, TV and the Internet in various capacities, and believes that they will be seperate platforms for at least a while yet. His main interests at the moment are exploring where Linux is taking home entertainment and how technology is conferring technical skills on more and more people. Fraser Lovatt was born in the same year that 2001: A Space Odyssey was delighting and confusing people in the cinemas, and developed a lifelong love of technology as soon as he realised that things could be taken apart, sometimes put back together again, but mostly left in bits or made into something the original designer hadn't quite planned upon. At school he was definitely in the ZX Spectrum/Magpie/BMX camp, rather than the BBC Micro/Blue Peter/well-behaved group. This is all deeply ironic as he later went on to spend nine years working at the BBC. After a few years of working as a bookseller in Scotland, ("Back when it was actually a skilled profession" he'll tell anyone still listening), he moved to England for reasons he can't quite explain adequately to himself. After a couple of publishing jobs punctuated by sporadic bursts of travelling and photography came the aforementioned nine years at the BBC where he specialised in internet technologies and video. These days his primary interests are Java, Linux, videogames and pies - and if they're not candidates for convergence, then what is?