Questions and Answers

O2 says it’s pleased with the take-up of i-mode, with 250,000 subscribers and 150 sites. Does this suggest that i-mode has a future in an HSDPA-speed internet-enabled mobile world?
Heeran, Valista: Much depends on where O2 takes i-mode in the future. NTT DoCoMo successfully carried i-mode on to its 3G FOMA network when it was launched, using the well established brand to market the new services. It seems logical that O2 would do the same and unless they do, I would be pessimistic about its ability to compete in the face of emerging 3G services such as Video and Mobile TV.

Regarding its current success, it is hard to judge just how successful it really is. Past i-mode offerings from other European operators were heralded as a success; but on closer analysis (of the usage figures and average spend per subscriber), it was clear that the real take-up of i-mode was attributed to the subsidised handsets and free trial periods at launch, rather than the long term customer spend.

Further development in 3G services (and the subsequent consumer adoption) poses a significant threat to its relevance in terms of content and capability. Unless, of course it can quickly offer 3G services of its own.

Antliff, DA: The take up of i-mode is encouraging. It shows that users want high-speed connections that allow them to get more from their phone.

O2 has been rewarded for taking the plunge into HSPDA by the customer take up of i-mode. The traction it has in the market should be a benefit as more users get switched on to this kind of service.

Data services have moved on so much from the simple text message: promotional campaigns, community ventures and interactive projects will be the catalyst for an explosion in demand from consumers.

Marketeers should also be quick to seize on the potential for this technology. The World Cup, for example, has led to a real goalmouth scramble for the consumer’s attention as marketing over mobile offers a real chance to target the individual, who can also instantly buy through their phone, thus providing new revenue streams for operators too.
Squires, Nokia: Technology does not tend to be a key consumer driver, the popularity lies within the functionality of the application itself.

The Nokia S60 platform with its openly programmable operating system makes it possible for us to expand the range of different software and customisation elements available via Nokia devices.

While we remain fully committed to promoting open standards, i-mode has become an important part of the strategies of a number of our operator customers. The S60 platform plays a key role in making this a reality, making devices available depending on the operator demand as a part of our customisation offering.

Squires, Nokia: The web pages at the Mobile Industry Crime Action Forum ( HYPERLINK "http://www.micaf.co.uk" www.micaf.co.uk) give the best answer to this question; our industry has been very active in working with the police and relevant authorities to fight this type of crime.

It is important to realise that the problem is proportionately decreasing. In 1994 (the first year the industry has reliable crime figures) 7.2% of the phones in the UK were subject to theft. By 2002 the British Crime Figures survey reported that this figure had fallen across the user population to 1.7%. Any theft is unacceptable, however, and we continue to work towards lowering this figure.

In the UK one mobile phone is stolen every 12 seconds, and it’s costing £390m each year. What can (or should) the industry do about it?

Seaton, Airwide: While the number of stolen phones today is alarming, we are in fact only experiencing the beginning of what could turn out to be an epidemic. Estimates predict that the actual number of stolen phones could be ten times what is actually reported.
The problem for operators is just as acute, with fraud affecting operator revenues and
subscriber growth.

Many governments have responded by issuing mandates for Equipment Identity Register (EIR) deployments. This is a positive step forward but governments need to also raise awareness of the issue and support operators in addressing the problem. GSM EIR Spec 22.016 is a good start but we need to see enhanced EIR functions including IMEI and IMSI linking, fraud detection to prevent SIM cloning, and easier barring.

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:  HYPERLINK "mailto:panel@mbmagazine.co.uk" panel@mbmagazine.co.uk