Dramatic Growth for Multimedia Handsets Expected
Apr 11, 2006
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According to market research firm In-Stat, the number of cellular phones with multimedia capability will double in the next 2 years, but the capability is still not generating much consumer enthusiasm, especially in the U.S.

In spite of the growth of dedicated MP3 players during 2005, user interest in having this capability within their wireless phone did not change over the same period. The ability to play digital music on a handset was one of the more popular multimedia applications cited by respondents in a survey of U.S. consumers; but with just 9 percent expressing any interest, it is really not a compelling feature to many, In-Stat said.

However, the number of phones with multimedia capability will grow dramatically because of other business factors. Recent research by In-Stat found the greatest interest for multimedia viewing in the In-Stat U.S. consumer survey was for receiving real-time news, weather, sports, and financial information.

Additionally, the report found that unit sales for MP3-capable phones exceeded dedicated MP3 player sales in 2003 and 2004. That changed in 2005 when global MP3 player shipments outpaced phones with MP3 capability by nearly 2 to 1.

"Subscribers in some global markets will slowly and grudgingly adopt the limitations of the current wireless multimedia marketplace, while other markets will mirror the Japanese market where not having multimedia capability in a mobile device is the exception," said Bill Hughes, In-Stat analyst. "Wider adoption of multimedia could come from giving users a taste of the service."

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