Giving consumers information on the move will be the goal of the mobile phone industry according to analysts.
At the Consumer Electronic Show taking place in Las Vegas this week market researchers, the Gartner Group, predicted that it will be such devices that will quickly meet the information needs of consumers and become market winners.
The demand for Web access using mobile phones in the US has been much higher than many had anticipated and manufacturers are clamouring add Internet capabilities to their phones for ecommerce and information retrieval purposes, the analysts claim.
However the Gartner Group warns that, although a "truly mobile society will emerge over the next five years" there is no question that "wireless and the Web are made for each other", and that consumers should not believe the hype just yet.
Bryan Prohm, the Gartner Group's senior analyst believes that consumers shouldn't set their expectations too high. "Things won't happen as quickly as people think and want," he said. "By 2003 we expect one billion wireless users, the content is out there, but it will take time to develop fully."
Prohm also predicts that towards the end of this year a "trough of disillusionment" will develop as consumers begin to feel let down by unfulfilled expectations. According to Prohm, operators will need to deliver the right message to consumers to avoid high expectations.
Over the next two years wireless data services adoption is expected to be driven by the need for enterprise messaging and personal information. The Gartner Group expects that the US will follow Europe in providing ecommerce facilities, access to the Web and personal finance to the individual via their mobile phone.
Prohm also believes that a critical mass will only be achieved when network readiness is ubiquitous. He said: "The wireless Internet will go mainstream when separate wireless data channels are developed, variants of WAP [wireless application protocol standards emerge and when vendors match content to network speed and device configuration. The success will lead to a wireless access, anytime and anywhere Web."
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