Consumer applications such as games and ring tones will drive the take-up of next-generation mobile services and generate the most traffic and revenues for mobile operators, industry experts have predicted.
According to a study by IDC, the western European mobile consumer applications market - which includes gaming, ring tones, video and music - will be worth just under $8bn in 2008.
The analyst firm said operators are seeking new ways of differentiating themselves, with Vodafone bolstering the content on its Live! service, O2 introducing video and the first over-the-air music services, and DoCoMo continuing its European i-mode roll-out.
"The wireless industry will not see the one killer application that many are still seeking and talking about," said Paolo Pescatore, senior analyst for IDC's European wireless and mobile communications service, in a statement.
"It is very much a cocktail and these applications will drive usage over GPRS, Edge, UMTS and HSDPA. All these applications - ring tones, gaming, video, and music - will eventually find their place on a mobile."
Operators need to start marketing and selling mobile data services rather than just voice services, which have traditionally needed less promotion.
There are various sales models that can be used, such as pay-per-event, subscription-based or a single-price offering which bundles both application fee and traffic.
But given the success of ring tones and the significant revenues generated, the research states that it is "quite surprising" there have been few moves to launch mobile music services.
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