There will be no single killer app for mobile data, according to analysts at IDC. We should add, before all the operators start to panic, that this is because there will be several important factors driving revenue to such an extent that by 2008, the mobile consumer applications market will be worth just under $8bn in Western Europe.
Paolo Pescatore, a senior wireless and mobile market analyst at IDC argues that it will be a cocktail of consumer applications that will drive data traffic: "All these applications - ring tones, gaming, video, and music - will eventually find their place on a mobile," he says, although music and video will take longer to find their niche than, for example, ring tones.
The challenge for operators will be to differentiate their particular selection of applications from the competition. Pescatore advises operators to approach data very differently from voice. Voice sold itself, he says, whereas data needs to be marketed.
Chosing which parts to sell first will be crucial to success, IDC says, although operators must be careful not to over-hype the new services, music and video in particular.
Despite this, the researchers say they are surpised operators have not made bigger moves into the music market, given the success of ring tones. People listen to music all over the place, they point out, and in multiple formats. Adding mobility to that package should be a logical step, and operators are well placed to tie in with record owners.
Although operators are keen to negotiate rights for video, the user experience is likely to be lacking at the moment. IDC also says it sees much less demand for video than for ringtones and games, but expects sport will be the main demand item for video streaming.