Wireless Gaining Subscribers Worldwide

The untethered life holds great appeal for Internet users worldwide as the number of subscribers to wireless applications continues to grow. The Yankee Group predicts that global wireless users will grow nearly 9 percent from 2002 to exceed 1.75 billion in 2007, and In-Stat/MDR expects the number of worldwide wireless Internet subscribers will have risen from 74 million at the end of 2001 to more than 320 million by the end of 2006.

The Asia-Pacific region alone will account for a significant portion of the global usage: Yankee Group expects the mobile user base in that area to grow from 436 million in 2002 to 773 million in 2007.

“The opportunities for growth in Asia continue to come from new network deployments in emerging markets, with a great deal of growth projected for China and India,” says Shiv Putcha, Yankee Group Wireless/Mobile Asia-Pacific senior analyst.

Asia-Pacific will register the strongest revenue growth (nearly 15 percent) driven by an almost 20 percent expected increase in China, while global revenue will reach an average growth rate of 9 percent. Less than 5 percent revenue growth is expected for North America, 7 percent for Europe/Middle East/Africa (EMEA) and more than 10 percent for Latin America.

Yankee Group also predicts the U.S. wireless market will reach 50 percent penetration by the end of 2003, and currently, 12 percent of 18-to-24 year olds in the U.S. are totally wireless, with another 28 percent planning to cut the cord over the next 5 years.

Wireless email is included in the unplugged revolution, and The Radicati Group, Inc. expects the number of users to grow from 1.99 million worldwide in 2003 to 8.76 million in 2007. In-Stat/MDR predicts that there will be more than 1 billion wireless messaging subscribers by the end of 2006, up from 305 million at the end of 2001.

The Mobile Data Association (MDA) counted 55 million text chargeable person-to-person text messages sent across the four UK GSM networks during August 2003, bringing the 8-month total to 13.3 billion. This compares to UK daily averages of 45 million in August 2002 and 34 million in August 2001. The MDA expects the 20 billion messages will be sent by the end of 2003.

Solomon-Wolff Associatesnoted in a July 2002 survey of 6,800 participants that 119 million people in the U.S. owned devices capable of wireless Internet services, and another 33 million showed interest, resulting in a revenue opportunity of more than $4 billion per year.

“Naturally, those who already use devices such as wireless phones, laptop computers, and PDAs are more interested in wireless Internet than people who just use desktop PCs,” said Joey Wolff, partner in Solomon Wolff Associates.

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