Analysts: More growth in mobiles yet

Nearly three out of every four Australians own a mobile phone, but analysts claim there is still more room for growth in the mobile telephony industry.

Research group IDC suggests phone users will rise to 17.2 million, a phenomenal 83 per cent of the population, by 2007.

The real money, IDC suggests, will be in services. Over $8.4 billion in services revenue was earned this year, and the industry is likely to pull in some $12.1 billion in services by 2007.

The growth potential is highly dependent on the provision of “high-value, non-voice” services, the analyst group said.

IDC analyst Warren Chaisatien believes the Australian mobile market will reach saturation (about 85 per cent of population) toward the end of this decade. But he expects that revenue growth from new innovative non-voice services will match or outpace the drop in subscriber growth.

“Service revenue growth is expected to register a big jump in 2005, when 3G infrastructure and offerings become ubiquitous in Australia,” he said.

Chaisatien said carriers, and in turn resellers, will earn higher margins in the future on non-voice products. He said that many of these services are becoming available now - the key issue is not the maturity of the technology but the ability to convince customers to pay a premium for new services.

The analyst group also sees strong potential for mobile telephony in the business market. “The business market holds tremendous potential, especially for high-value data services,” Chaisatien told ARN. “They have real needs for always-on, anytime, anywhere access to critical business information - and they are not as price-sensitive as consumers. On average, only 13 per cent of spending on mobile communications by Australian businesses goes to wireless data and non-voice services - so there's a lot of upside potential there.”

Chaisatien said the sales pitch to the business community will become easier once there are case studies available that present potential customers with proof of positive returns in investment.

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