July 30, 2007 Mobile phone penetration rates around the world are showing up some interesting trends - notably developing markets are selling more phones than ever but making less money as competition tightens. Developed markets are seeing a strong swing away from basic handsets toward more advanced Smartphones – a trend that will only be enhanced by the huge popularity of mass-market targeted handsets like the iPhone, which are starting to make these devices attractive to the consumer market as opposed to just business customers. Other interesting trends include the increasing number of dual-mode WiFi/Cellular phones that can seamlessly switch between local wireless internet connections and 2G cell phone networks to make optimal use of the economic efficiency of the former and the broad coverage of the latter.
Smartphones are defined as mobile phones that have features more reminiscent of a personal computer or PDA – including operating systems, calendar and email applications, GPS navigation systems, cameras, media players and the ability to install new applications. Popular examples have included Nokia’s 9210, the BlackBerry series, Samsung’s BlackJack and Apple’s recent cult icon, the iPhone.
The latest global data from market research firm Infonetics shows that while the mobile phone market is increasing penetration rates in developing markets, revenues are sliding due to increased competition and dropping prices. At the same time, in developed countries, 3G Smartphones are taking off with strong sales growth and increased revenues as consumers make more use of premium services and 3G network coverage expands.
“To date, smartphone purchasers have been largely business power-users, but the launch of Apple's iPhone and Samsung's BlackJack—media-playing smartphones that appeal to consumers—is giving the smartphone segment a boost, and could change the dynamics of the mobile phone market. Vendors will design more consumer-oriented smartphones, and cause fierce competition among incumbent players,” said Richard Webb, directing analyst for wireless at Infonetics Research.
Other mobile phone highlights from the report:
Meanwhile, worldwide WiFi phone revenue, though up significantly in 2006, fell 8% to $5 billion in 1Q07, but is projected to post strong double-digit growth every year through 2010, when it will top $145 billion as WiFi is incorporated into a growing range of mobile phones.
Advantages of WiFi phones include the ability to use an available wireless internet connection to access very cheap call and data transfer rates, and in some cases seamlessly hand over a call to the mobile network if a user moves outside the WiFi reception area. This type of Fixed/Mobile Convergence (FMC) enables new carriers to get into markets whose mobile phone transmission spectrums are already crowded with 2G and 3G carriers.
Enterprises are ramping up adoption of WiFi phones, driven by increased use of wireless LANs and IP PBX technology, while consumers are adopting WiFi phones because of their increasing adoption of broadband connections with wireless and VoIP-enabled equipment on the premises. At the same time, operators are launching dual-mode FMC services, which will also drive adoption of WiFi phones.
Other WiFi phone highlights from the report:
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