‘All new mobiles to be WAP by 2001’

All new mobile phones sold in the UK will be WAP-enabled by 2001, driving a two-year period of hypergrowth, according to a new report from Forrester Research.

As the price of WAP handsets reaches parity with today’s phones, consumer uptake will increase rapidly, creating a market of 41 million mobile Internet users in the UK by 2005.

But Forrester sees UK mobile users splitting into two distinct groups – multi-device users and single-device users. Multi-device users will have alternative methods of accessing the Internet such as a PC and digital television, and their expectations of WAP will be shaped by their experience of fixed-line Internet. Forrester predicts 28 million multi-device users by 2005.

Single-device users will only want to access the Internet from their mobile phones. They will therefore be more amenable to regular product upgrades. This single-device market will exceed 4 million by 2002, reaching 12 million in 2005, says Forrester.

This group provides a big opportunity for today’s mobile phone companies to leverage their customer relationships, Forrester adds. Thanks to their control of the billing infrastructure, “operators will seize this opportunity to become mobile e-commerce enablers through existing billing relationships”.

At the same time, “brick and mortar” companies will be able to fight back against e-tailers, by forging strong alliances with mobile phone network providers.

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