Research conducted by ARC Group predicts that mobile data users will total nearly 1.2 billion worldwide by 2005, exceeding users of fixed Internet, who are forecast to number around 750 million during the same timeframe.
The report, "Wireless Internet: Applications, Technology and Market Strategies" says the dramatic growth in mobile data will see wireless data communications eventually outpacing voice as the market's driving factor, with 70% of mobile subscribers worldwide using data in 2005.
Regina Wong, ARC Group consultant and lead author of the report comments that personalisation, mobility, time and location sensitive features will prove crucial in the take-up of wireless data services. She predicts: "Personal Information Management (PIM) will be the most popular application over the next few years but will be overtaken by navigation/location services by 2005."
According to the report, financial services will be nearly as popular as mobile entertainment with 920 million people expected to subscribe to such services, compared with 959 million users accessing entertainment.
Research indicates that the explosive growth of mobile data in much of the world will not be matched in the US, with 72% of Western Europeans using such services within three years compared with just 44% in the States. Only in 2005 will data usage in the US start to catch up as the leading regions reach saturation point, the report states.
Regina Wong says: "As well as relatively high fixed Internet costs in Western Europe, the existence of the common GSM standard which largely eliminates roaming problems and patchy coverage, has contributed to high mobile data usage."