Questions and Answers

The mobile business industry panel tackles topical issues
Now that most up-range phones come with a camera, music player and video recorder, what will be the next must-have technology to appear in a mobile?

Julien Parven, Fone Logistics told Mobile Businness Magazine: “As far back as 2004 I saw ROK Corporation’s first venture into this area with their licensed content packaged on an external memory card and displayed as a full-screen broadcast for Nokia Series 60 handsets. This in itself was a huge step forward from the previously advanced video clip technology that rapidly acquired a somewhat lighthearted and sometimes seedy reputation. The latest mobile TV technology is content-rich, high-quality and has the promise to consistently refresh itself to maintain the purchaser’s interest.”

At the higher end of the market, the advent of mobile-specific internet browser variants promises to be equally as significant, driving internet traffic to popular handheld mobile devices.
Griffiths, O2 told Mobile Business Magazine: “TV is the next must-have for mobile, and this is supported by the results of our ongoing DVB-H trials in Oxford.”

At the moment TV is being streamed over 3G; but currently the quality leaves much to be desired, and as we’ve seen its appeal is limited. Good-quality, cost effective streaming technologies will need to be rolled out first. We will also need to see improvements to the handset screen size, frame rate and image quality before mobile TV can really take off. When digital broadcast technologies such as DVB-H become available, the uptake will really accelerate.

Barry Nash, Elite Mobile told Mobile Business Magazine: “Following hard on the heels of server-based satellite navigation which links with Bluetooth handsets, such as our Navig8, the next logical step is to integrate GPS into the handset itself. This offers benefits over vehicle-based satnav and during this year we will see a number of manufacturers introducing this technology in handsets. We ourselves are currently working on both the further development of the existing out-of-the-box, plug-and-play format and an alternative ‘software only’ version to complement GPS handset integration.”

Ashton, BenQ Mobile told Mobile Business Magazine: “In my opinion, the next must-have technology will be a device that enables the convergence of the mobile and the home phone. “

“Having one device which will work as a home phone, can be carried out of the house and used as a mobile is likely to be very appealing. The obvious consumer benefit for this type of convergence, other than convenience, is that one phone means having just one bill.”

“All of our new products at BenQ Mobile offer a host of the latest technical features and we will always endeavour to develop must-have features. But we also strive to offer the consumer a ‘total product experience’, so that our products go beyond just the technology and offer something that genuinely reflects and complements the consumer’s lifestyle needs.”

Mike Short, O2 told Mobile Business Magazine: “We have had more phones than people in the UK for over 15 months now. Some people have more than one phone (work and family, say), some have additional data/email devices, and some are regular visitors to the UK. These are all market segments that will continue to show growth, particularly in the data area; and there will also be a device upgrade market to GPRS or 3G/WiFi.”

“Mobile content, imaging, and access to email continue to offer drivers for upgrades. However there is also for the specialists the growing interest in the public sector, and separately in the machine-to-machine markets. The growth of GPS inside phones (or via Bluetooth) should also not be underestimated.”

Julien Parven, Fone Logistics told Mobile Business Magazine: “Growth in the market can only come from a single source – this industry’s almost unique ability to reinvent itself! “

“As it has done before, the industry will move on and the emergence of new technologies will provide the impetus for the next generation of mobile users. “

“The key shouts from the networks centre around Blackberry, mobile email and data solutions. These technologies will drive the need to acquire new devices and form the basis for the continued growth in the market.”

Barry Nash, Elite Mobile told Mobile Business Magazine: “The mobile phone has now evolved from simply being a practical call-making device: it is a fashion icon. Constantly evolving handset technology will continue to drive the replacement market. The majority of users are also always on the lookout for enhanced features and greater value for money.”

“With 3G making serious inroads into the UK market this year, there will be an abundance of exciting new handset features, such as TV and video streaming, with the result that consumers are increasingly looking upon the mobile phone as a key lifestyle product.”

Fran Heeran, Valista told Mobile Business Magazine: “In my view, market growth will be driven by a number of factors depending on different customer profiles. For business use, there are still significant opportunities in the connectivity services: BlackBerry has led the way in push email but we are now seeing other vendors such as Microsoft coming into the area. In addition, mobile access to corporate intranets and the associated data revenues are still areas of growth potential. Handset replacement on its own does not represent a market growth opportunity. But services such as mobile TV and the emergence of ‘made for mobile’ TV content, as well as interactive mobile gaming and music, provide both significant revenue opportunities and the necessary incentives to accelerate handset replacement to support these services.”

“However, costs for both content and data transport must be unified so that pricing is made understandable and appealing to consumers. It still remains to be seen if the pricing of these services can be made competitive enough for the average pre-paid subscriber which represents the majority of the consumer base.”

Underwood, RIM told Mobile Business Magazine: “According to Informa, the average phone user is spending in the region of €5-8 per month on non-voice services. The same survey also showed that mobile email and music are expected to generate the most interest in 2006. Handset functionality and availability will have a large role to play in this growth; larger colour screens and lighter-weight devices will be important for an improved range of services.”

“Convergence will be the industry buzzword as users demand more technology capabilities from one easy-to-use device. BlackBerry is well positioned to serve this market as it provides users with the functionality of a mobile phone with superior email, SMS and browsing capabilities.”

“If virtually everyone in Britain has a mobile phone now, where is all the growth in the market coming from? What’s the relative importance of handset replacement against extra added-value services?”

The Mobile Business Industry Panel aims to get views from leading figures on key topics.
On the panel we have a selection of senior management from operators, distributors and retailers, plus a couple of industry observers and pundits. Each month we invite comment from some of them and we print the best/most interesting of their responses.
If there are any questions you think we should put to the panel just email them to us: panel@MBmagazine.co.uk