As 3G begins to take off, what will trigger mass market uptake of data and multimedia services? In a new market report, Next Generation Handsets 2005-2010, Juniper Research argues that power has shifted to a more discerning user community that is spoilt for choice and yet appears fazed by the complexity of mobile phones and the plethora of services on offer.
Key findings of the report include:
* Continuing market growth - Juniper Research estimates that the total mobile subscriber market will reach 2.7 billion by 2010 and that shipments of handsets will break the 1 billion mark by 2009 on the back of emerging Asia Pacific markets and increasing replacement rates in mature markets.
* Rising 3G numbers - 3G subscribers are predicted to grow from 30 million in 2004 to over 300 million by 2010. However, whilst representing a step-jump in technology for delivering current services with better quality, 3G's benefits derive more from its ability to accommodate greater numbers of users and network traffic, especially voice, than its support of advanced services delivery.
* The need to re-think the approach to handsets and services - The industry is still too preoccupied with technology advances and not focused enough on what makes users tick. Vendors and operators must stop filling mobiles with catch-all baskets of features. In a high-demand environment where the user is king the way forward is to adopt a more sophisticated needs and segmentation based approach to the design of handsets and services.
* Poor customer care - There is a pressing industry-wide need for more empathetic customer care. Service providers need to review how services are presented and take greater control of their relationships with customers, ensuring, especially, that they are set up with what they need as part of the provisioning process. Better still, why not learn from the automotive and personal computer industries and offer full-blown customisation?
"Most consumers are turned off by hi-tech acronyms, brand battles or technology for technology's sake. They want useful services tailored to their needs that can be accessed at the push of a button, at a price they can afford, and on a tariff structure they can understand, and they want someone to set it all up for them before they switch on." says Trevor Howell, author of the report. "Whoever gets this right will reap the benefits of increased ARPU."