Mobile phone growth shows no signs of slowing

WAP and SMS services will drive continued explosive growth in mobile phone uptake, but service providers must choose their content partners carefully, says Info2Cell.

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By  Rob Corder Published  September 20, 2000

GSM service providers wanting to cash-in on explosive growth in demand for mobile phones need to search carefully for the right partners to provide content for evolving WAP services, warns Bashar Dahabra, CEO of WEB Info2Cell, a Middle East pioneer in WAP and SMS services.

“It’s important to understand the dynamics of WAP services, and that means experience in a number of markets is vital. Without that experience, operators are in danger of being sold service offerings that people simply won’t use. With realistic, dependable and reliable content offerings, the mobile information services market in the Middle East is set for an amazing future,” he said.

Up to 35 million people could be using mobile phones in the Middle East by 2004, according to a recent report from EMC. Coupled with technical advances in WAP, SMS and GPRS, this could mean mobile devices could become a more common means of accessing the Internet than PCs.

Valuable services to mobile devices will be critical to maintain current growth rates, argues Dahabra. “With competitive operators driving key market growth and a rising tide of WAP and SMS driven information services, regional GSM markets are already growing faster than the Middle East Internet,” he predicts.

Dahabra is convinced that competition in the mobile service provider market is a catalyst to innovation and better customer choice. He points to markets like Egypt and Jordan where competition is leading to explosive growth.

The Egyptian market has seen growth from 80,000 GSM handsets to over 850,000 driven over the past two years, while the Jordanian market of operator FastLink has grown in the past year from 120,000 to over 200,000 users even before the recent launch of the new GSM operator MobileCom.

“In both of these markets, we have seen enormous growth driven by highly competitive multi-operator environments,” said Dahabra.

“In Saudi Arabia, network expansion is driving enormous growth to a potential of over 2 million users in the coming months. Dubai-based handset distributors are currently having something of a bonanza, with mobile handsets being shipped around the region by the ton. We work closely with the region’s operators, and every operator we are talking to is working to manage huge growth.”

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