IDC Australia forecasts there will be more than 10 million subscribers with access to high-speed mobile data services in Australia by 2005. In addition, more than one million portable computing devices with wireless networking capabilities will be sold that year alone. This is a profound trend that is projected to reshape enterprise and consumer use of wireless communications and their interaction with each one and another.
IDC expects to see mobile subscribers adopt networks that are faster, more data-oriented such asWLAN, 2.5G (GPRS), and 3G. These networks will offer wireless data at speeds ranging from mobile access from 100 kilobits per second to WLAN speeds of over 50 megabits per second. With regards to mobile networks, IDC expects 1.5 million subscribers to third generation (3G) mobile voice and data networks by 2005.
This is forecast to explode to more than 3.5 million by 2006.
From a device perspective, the number of mobile computing devices that can be used with mobile data networks, particularly notebooks and smart handheld devices (SHDs) ranging from next-generation mobile phones to wireless-capable versions of today’s Palm and Pocket PC devices, is also positioned to grow. IDC estimates the number of SHDs sold in Australia will rise from about 110,000 in 2002 to 295,000 in 2005.
The sales of wireless-equipped notebooks are also expected to increase from just over 400,000 to 650,000 during the same period.
Driven by integrated technology, such as Intel’s Centrino platform and wireless interface cards build directly on the motherboard, organisations will deploy wireless networks to offices enabling workers to gain access through local ‘hot spots’ emerging in airports, cafes and other locations.This will result in knowledge workers achieving never before seen instant access to online services for work and pleasure using high frequency, shared spectrum connections.
IDC forecasts that investment in wireless technologies such as WLAN will reach $108 million by 2005 in Australia. We also predict that Australians will spend $3.5 billion on non-voice mobile services and $132 million on SHDs in that year. These are significant sums and represent a substantial portion of overall IT and telecommunications spending. The principal driver behind wireless technology adoption is the keenly felt business need to solve the productivity paradox experienced by mobile workers. Businesses need workers whose time is spent away from the office to be productive regardless of their location.
Unusually, a good deal of the capital investment is required to make mobility a reality, now this will be shared by enterprises and technology companies. IDC sees the various parts of the supply chain making investments in development in order to make the overall “mobility solution” more attractive:
* Networks live for traffic and so carriers want to drive demand.
* Application providers that want to extend their reach in organisations and mobilising their products is a key means to entrench their enterprise position.
* Infrastructure players are looking to fill the gaps in network coverage by offering new technologies such as wireless LANs.
Based on these points, IDC does not expect a single model of the mobile enterprise to emerge. Rather, the need for flexibility will lead to a range of applications and technologies becoming available. Although it may seem like there will be a bewildering choice of handsets, applications and technologies; the real benefit will be that businesses will be able to fit their solution more effectively to the needs of their organisation.
In conclusion, IDC’s forecast for mobile data usage and the supporting hardware will only be realised once certain fears over security have been addressed and when suppliers are ready convert enterprise requirements into workable solutions.
IDC believes this is possible but it will require a high level of trust between the end user looking to enable mobile functionality and service providers. Service providers will also require the ongoing support of the vendor and developer community. This pattern for partnership will be attuned to today’s pragmatic atmosphere, with shared risk and carefuljoint ventures the order of the day.