British Mobile Net Indifference

LONDON — According to surveys conducted for KPMG’s report Mobile Commerce – Connecting with the future the short-term outlook for uptake of the mobile Internet is not particularly bright. Approximately 28 million British adults own a mobile phone, a massive potential market for mcommerce services, but only 15% of the KPMG sample possessed an internet-enabled handset.

John Machin, Head of Information Risk Management at KPMG, said: Early take up of WAP has not matched the hype, but that is quite normal with new and emerging technologies. Once 3G services are established, perceptions will change and internet-enabled phones will become mass market. Whether this will be within 18 months, or 24, or 36 nobody knows – but it is going to happen.”

Certainly, the KPMG research points to a more distant future for next-generation mobiles, as 41% of those interviewed who had a mobile, but were not connected to the mobile Internet did not see themselves purchasing a Net-enabled phone during the next twelve months, and 37% did not expect to ever purchase a Net-ready phone. This left just 22% of mobile owners in the survey who thought they were interested in buying a mobile capable of surfing the Net during the next year – still several millions of potential purchasers if one extrapolates the figures to the entire populace, but doubtless some way below the mobile operators’ best scenario predictions.

Marketers will perhaps draw some solace from the fact that younger consumers are more mobile-friendly – 21% of 15-24 year-old mobile owners already being connected – suggesting that the market will grow exponentially as the current pre-teen and teen market that has grown up with mobiles clamped to their ears matures.

Given that the research also pointed to sending messages as consumers’ most anticipated function on an Net-enabled phone, it is hardly surprising that in the meantime, companies such as Magic4 and are exploring the opportunities offered by the proven profitability of the SMS text-messaging market, and side-stepping the whole issue of the mobile Internet.

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