Thursday, April 19, 2007

3GSM: Mapping the Asian market

When the big and the best of mobile telephony industry converged in Barcelona this year(12-15 February, 2007)- they meant business and it was as big as it gets. Around 55,000 people- the highest for a 3GSM congress -from across the globe gathered to confabulate and contemplate on the emerging trends in mobile communication. Here's a snapshot of the promises and predictions.

Manufacturers, operators, distributors, mobile content providers, industry experts- they all had their concerns and opinions to share on the future ahead. While manufacturers announced and launched a range of handsets, the operators stressed on enhanced coverage and cost cutting measures to sustain growth.

The marketing policy of Nokia seems to be focussed on business phones with the manufacturer unveiling the next genration of E-series devices. On the other end, Motorola is gearing up to lock horns in the smartphones category with an array of HSDPA-enabled handsets.

Instant messaging was the buzzword with fifteen operators agreeing on a joint mechanism to offer IM across networks. Mobile content and allied services also took centrestage with companies finding it difficult to retain and expand their base, particularly in the developing Asian markets. Mobile T.V and mobile music content featured as a promising business with a huge consumption potential.

Key speakers, noticeably among them, Vodafone chief Arun Sarin(charged up after acquiring the Hutch deal in India!) and Orange chief Sanjiv Ahuja put stress on exploring new revenue streams( like mobile content, sponsorships etc) to sustain profitability and growth. With call charges getting lower and lower, companies are looking for new areas for earnings in both developed and developing economies. With the news of major countries in Asia like India and China becoming 3G compatible, service providers expect a big upsurge in the demand for mobile content like sports updates, video clips, celebrity wallpapers etc., in the multi-billion market.

The next 3GSM congress is scheduled in November at Macau(Asia). With the Common Wealth games and Olympics to be held in the Asian countries, the mobile companies will get an ideal platform to test their business model and infrastructure to deliver news, sports and other mobile content to scores of sports lovers in the developing markets.

Summing up the spirit of the 3GSM, Motorola's new European sales chief, Stephen Nolan observed : 'The central theme of a lot of conversations happening at this show is 'How am I special?' We're moving away from a transactional spot relationship… to become more of a long-term partner.'

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