Wireless Portal Users Growing in Number

The number of wireless portal users will grow to nearly 25 million in the next five years, according to estimates in a report by The Strategis Group.

The report “US Wireless Portals: Strategies and Forecasts” defines a wireless portal as a customized point of entry through which a wireless subscriber can access Internet sites and information, usually in a text-only format.

Sprint’s Wireless Web Portal and Palm Computing’s Palm.net portal were the first two wireless portals on the marketplace. While wireless portals are just beginning to appear in the marketplace, The Strategis Group expects that most major wireless carriers as well as traditional portals will have a wireless portal by the end of 2000. The initial target audience will be wireless users with higher than average monthly bills and “business intensive users.”

“We are fast becoming the ‘nano-second’ generation of people who want customized information, ASAP, anywhere, any time,” said Jonathan Dorfman, an analyst with The Strategis Group. “Wireless portals will deliver time-sensitive, localized, and customized content to a variety of devices. Given the mobile environment and limited device screen size, a wireless portal Internet experience will differ markedly from that of the conventional Internet.”

Wireless Portal
Year Users
2000 0.3
2001 2.3
2002 5.7
2003 9.8
2004 14.5
2005 19.7
2006 24.8
Source: The Strategis Group

A host of players are vying to secure dominance in the wireless portal arena, according to The Strategis Group. “Big name players such as Sprint, BellSouth, Yahoo, and Excite, as well as startups such as Neopoint, InfoSpace.com, and Phone.com are all trying to become the dominant player for mobile users accessing the Internet,” said Cynthia Hswe, an analyst at The Strategis Group. “As more and more Internet traffic is shifted from fixed computers to wireless devices, the stakes are huge as to who wins the customer loyalty.”

The Strategis Group surveyed wireless users regarding their interest in accessing the Internet via their wireless phone and found a high level of interest. Approximately 34 percent of wireless users expressed an interest in a wireless portal service. In addition, most of the interested users indicated an interest in receiving advertising via their portals in exchange for discounted monthly fees, the report said.

“Such interest will be crucial for wireless portals that are positioning themselves to drive their business models with alternative revenue streams such as advertising and transactional revenues,” said Elliott Hamilton, senior VP at The Strategis Group. “While carriers are currently charging a premium for the service, The Strategis Group expects that low-speed wireless Internet service will eventually be free to subscribers as part of a bundled, enhanced service plan.”

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