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Momote, a platform developer for mobile applications, has launched its Momote MX Platform, which it says  enables the rapid development and deployment of critical applications for virtually any mobile phone or device. 

The MX Platform allows companies to develop applications that enable mobile and remote work forces to access, input and amend information such as delivery status, inventory levels, personnel data, as well as order processing and time and attendance recording.
Momote says that, in contrast to conventional technologies, the platform allows a single application to be developed, deployed and run on almost any mobile device, regardless of its operating system. By using an open, standards based architecture, Momote combines the concept of a user interface language, such as WML, with the programming capability of a scripting language. This results in applications that can be brought to market quicker.

If mobile content is really going to take off, content will have to be accessible to mobile users in many different areas,  including outside the operators' own portals.

To enable that to happen, four operators bonded together a little over a year ago to form what is now called Simpay, and was known before as the M-Payment alliance.
Simpay's aim is to act as the Visa or Mastercard of the mobile digital content world. The idea is, wherever users see the Simpay logo on a website, WAP portal or elsewhere, they will be able to buy the picture, download, clip, or whatever, and be billed directly to their mobile.
The system will also be similar to a bank payment scheme in that there will be a value chain incorporating merchant, merchant acquirer, payment system provider, mobile operator and customer. The ground will be slightly blurred, however, by the fact that
But there the similarity between the credit card industry model and Simpay stops, according to ceo Tim Jones. The principle difference is the margins that the 'merchant", the person selling the content, makes on the sale. In the Visa model a merchant might make a service charge of around 2.5% on a transaction, but in the mobile world content merchants are already used to around a 25-30% margin.
At the moment Simpay is still made up of the four original operators who founded it, Vodafone, Orange, T-Mobile and Telefonica Moviles. Several other operators (including 3, debitel, Elisa (previously Radiolinja), KPN Mobile Group, Mobilkom, O2, Optimus, SFR, TeliaSonera and TMN) have "expressed interest" but nobody else has actually made the step of joining.
Jones attended CTIA Wireless in Atlanta in March with the aim of encouraging US operators to join in. But he remains condifent that other operators will make the step to full membership when they see the technology working. Until its proposed launch in early 2005, Simpay is in a chicken and egg situation.
But the announcement that it has signed up Encorus as its mobile payment transaction processor will help build momentum that the organisation  will achieve its aims. Although Mobile Europe understands that Encorus has been waiting in the wings for a while as preferred partner, its announcement has been put on ice for a few months.
"The history of the mobile phone industry demonstrates that major business volume comes when customers have the freedom to reach across and interact with any network," comments Tim Jones, CEO, Simpay. "Our mission is to deliver that freedom in the field of mobile payments, and our agreement with Encorus is fundamental to achieving this mission"
Anil Malhotra, chief alliances officer at Bango.net, said it was "no coincidence" that recent interest among operators in off-portal content has met with the run-up to Simpay.
"The revolution here is to say there is a way to pay without going to a mobile operator. The arrival of Simpay is extremely helpful because it takes away our cost of billing. Malhotra said Bango.net would most likely become a "strong mobile merchant acquirer".

You might think that cutting costs and people are the main reasons operators outsource customer care functions, but when you ask them to supply their own reasons, they deny such base motives.

Instead, "improving customer care" is the number one priority for the UK telecoms industry when outsourcing, according to research conducted by LogicaCMG.
The study reveals that 100% of operators surveyed believe that freeing up resources to focus on customers is vital to their success in the marketplace. 
All operators highlighted the main reason for outsourcing was to help them focus more on customer care in the face of intense competition. When asked to rank the key drivers of outsourcing (mean score out of five) to  respondents noted: increased flexibility through outsourcing offers more ability to keep ahead of the market and concentrate on customers (4.4); improved access to skills to enable operators to develop new products and services faster (3.2); delivering new applications more quickly to maintain a competitive edge (2.6); and delivering higher quality products and services to customers by breaking into new markets (2.6).
The survey of the leading UK telecoms companies reveals that the majority of operators expect to reduce costs by an average of 17-20% through outsourcing, with some looking to cut costs by more than a third. In addition to managing costs in a competitive environment, telecom operators cited a target 5% reduction in time to market for key applications and consumer services.
All operators surveyed stated that the cost savings made through outsourcing would be reinvested back into the business as opposed to using the savings to either reduce debt levels or to place in cash holdings.
Derek Kemp, managing director, of LogicaCMG's UK telecoms business, said, "Contrary to the typical view of outsourcing, the telecoms industry is increasingly seeing this activity as a way of reinvesting in business rather than just cutting costs. With the battle for customers still fierce, outsourcing is being seen as a route to securing competitive advantage by providing the best customer service to reduce churn."
Other key benefits seen by operators in the shift to outsourcing include 40% of respondents noting an improvement of market and brand reputation. The study also revealed that 20% of operators have plans already in place for further outsourcing of various functions over the next two years.

GN Netcom has said it is the first in the industry to qualify a Bluetooth headset to version 1.2 of the Bluetooth specification.

Future GN Netcom office and mobile headset products and the JABRA brand of hands-free communication solutions will be approved to this version of the standard and become available when version 1.2 supported mobile phones and other devices utilising Bluetooth come to market.
"GN Netcom is committed to incorporating the latest technology to provide customers with the full range of capabilities offered by Bluetooth technology," said Leo Larsen, chief technology officer, GN Netcom. "With this qualification, GN Netcom now has the capability to support next generation mobile products that incorporate the new functionality offered by the new specification."
The new version of the Bluetooth specification offers features including Adaptive Frequency Hopping (AFH) technology. AFH minimises interference between Bluetooth and 2.4 GHz-based wireless applications such as WLANS (wireless local area networks) or WiFi operating in the same environment such as in offices or hotspots.
In addition, Fast Connect is supported and allows users to significantly reduce the time required to establish a connection between devices. The new standard is also compatible with Bluetooth v.1.1 products.

Mobile Connect now dual mode

Mobile Europe will watch with interest the market response to Vodafone’s launch of its 3G/ GPRS data card service in the UK. Although Vodafone went for a relatively low-key launch, such is the desperation for renewed signs of consumer interest in 3G there will undoubtedly be a lot riding on how the service is received. We have a reporter at a press briefing being held today so will let you know if anything significantly different from the information below comes out of that.

Vodafone is offering the service to larger business through its own business unit and reseller channel and, but is also offering the cards to individual or SMEs through 64 selected retail outlets. Presumably if there is great demand for the cards this will be extended to more shops.

At the moment there are four pricing bundles, from £10 per month for a 5MB worth of  data up to £85 per month for a "power user", who will get 500MB worth of mobile data. Intermediate prices at set at £20 for 25MB and £45 for 150MB. Business users will get twice the data bundle for their money of they sign up before October 2004. Vodafone says its user profiles are based on "extensive research" carried out with its trial customers. Not that you’d expect them to say, "These prices are a shot in the dark, frankly we haven’t got a clue how much data people are going to use when they start using 3G."

Vodafone’s wording about coverage is slightly obtuse. It says it has, "30% network coverage (equating to 41% geographic areas of the Vodafone UK network where data traffic is currently carried)."

Despite the fact that, theoretically, all of Vodafone’s GSM network can carry data, we take this to mean 40% of its GPRS network is now UMTS enabled. At any rate, these are the areas Vodafone gives as currently having 3G coverage: London, M25, along the M4 corridor (London to Newbury) and in Bristol, Cardiff, Portsmouth, Southampton, Birmingham, Leicester, Nottingham, Manchester, Liverpool and Belfast. 

Vodafone also says that roaming is available in Italy, Netherlands, Japan, Spain and Portugal. This will be on GPRS until Vodafone has 3G services up and running in each of those markets.
Vodafone is also publicising a downlink speed will be a theoretical maximum of 384 kbps, dependent, as Mobile Europe readers will know, on cell conditions and signal strength.

Current GPRS Mobile Connect customers will have to wait until their 12 month subscription runs out before they can upgrade to the dual mode card. So if you want 3G and you’ve signed up for a GPRS Mobile Connect card, bad luck.

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Mobile Europe has received the following email from ConVisual. It seems serious enough, but we are wondering about the name of the "parson from Albstadt".

conVISUAL Launches the First Mobile Content Service with Christian Content

conVISUAL launches the first mobile content service in Germany with Christian content. Users can now for the first time give their mobile phones a Christian look and feel with Christian-oriented graphics. conVISUAL and its distribution partner WEB.DE offer this Christian content on WEB.DE’s mobile portal.

conVISUAL launches the first mobile content service with Christian content. Users can now for the first time give their cell phones a Christian look and feel with Christian content. conVISUAL and its distribution partner WEB.DE offer this  Christian content on WEB.DE’s mobile portal allowing mobile users to express their religious beliefs by personalising their handsets with Christian content.

As a specialist for Christian content, Mr. Christian Tsalos, parson from Albstadt in Germany, created the content for the conVISUAL service. Christian Tsalos publishes Christian graphics using new media, in order to approach people in a new way. He says: ”We must find a better way to communicate religion in our daily lives, and what could be more effective than taking advantage of the popularity of mobile phones.” “Mobile phones are a perfect vehicle for people to express their religious feelings” says Torsten Jüngling, Sales Director at conVISUAL. Ingo Horak, manager for paid services at WEB.DE, adds: “Christian content is a perfect additional category to our wide selection of mobile content.”

As conVISUAL’s first distribution provider for this type of content, WEB.DE offers the new Chrstian content at their mobile portal at http://handy.web.de in the area “coloured logos”.

Swedish network a landmark

Tetra proponents in other countries will have looked with mixed feelings at the announcement from Nokia today that it has won the contract to provide a dedicated radio network for the shared use of all public safety organisations in Sweden.

The network (known as RAKEL) will cost the Swedish government somewhere in the region of €250 million and will be, geographically, the largest shared Tetra network in the world. Nokia has won the entire contract for the supply of all network equipment, including base stations, exchanges and dispatcher workstations. The network will be integrated and installed bv Saab and operated by Swedia.

From another standpoint, a win for Tetra is always good news for other Tetra vendors, whoever chalks up the sale. The Swedish government only recently plumped for Tetra over Tetrapol, its (bitter) rival digital radio technology. The shared use of Tetra by police, fire, ambulance and other public safety organisations is always proposed as one of the main benefits of the digital radio technology. But although the theory of allowing the emergency services to communicate directly with one another, wherever they are in a country, has its advantages, it has not always won out.

In the UK, although the regional police services are in the process of replacing their existing radio systems with Tetra networks, they are all doing so individually, and the concept of a national network is still just that. The UK fire service has taken a different view and is still deciding which technology it will choose.

Across the continent the picture is similarly fragmented, with virtually no governments having made the decision to move to a unified, shared network. In many countries the actual technical decision between Tetra and Tetrapol itself is not uniform, let alone hosting the communications of all the services on one network. So Sweden will be hailed by the TETRA community as a flagship project.

One noticeable things about the Swedish network is that the government has gone for an all-Nokia network, but there has been no simultaneous announcement on handsets. In the UK, Airwave’s network is built on Motorola equipment but is not restricted to Motorola. A quarter billion pound Tetra network in Sweden at least provides an opportunity for Sepura and Motorola to shift their handsets.

One issue that will have to address is that of consumer worries at Tetra base stations being erected. A source at Airwave confirmed to Mobile Europe that protests against masts have in some areas stopped network rollout in its racks. And where Airwave has used its powers to install base stations in the face of opposition, it has resulted in unwelcome publicity for its O2 parent. But that is a battle that all radio network operators are going to have to fight from now on, irrespective of technology.

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Nokia Tetra

Operator alliances are coming thick and fast. Or rather, the re-branding of them is. First there was StarHub, the  newly-branded group of nine smaller operators who have banded together to increase buying power, cooperate on roaming and try to attract multinational companies.

Then yesterday, a year after its birth, four major European carriers (TIM, Orange, Telefonica Moviles and T-Mobile) christened their roaming alliance FreeMove, although ABV, (Anyone But Vodafone) might have been a better name. FreeMove is about attracting the top end business market, ensuring a uniform user experience to users roaming across any of the FreeMove networks. It will also collaborate on handset procurement: it has preferred supplier agreements with Motorola and Siemens and has agreed to purchase six million handsets for 2004. The four operators will also work together on MMS roaming and interoperability. Its big aims are to increase voice traffic by 10% and GPRS data traffic by 100% every year for three years. Those multinational corporates will be offered combined GPRS/UMTS data cards, central account management, and a "transparent view" of costs and usage across the alliance footprint.

Mobile Europe will have more on this alliance in its April issue. There are questions to answer about handset choice and purchasing, as well as account management. There have also been queries about the viability of such alliances, but it seems to Mobile Europe that putting together a roaming agreement and a combined purchasing face is a little different from the full-on joint venture such as BT and AT&T’s now-defunct Concert. It seems operators can’t really win. If you’re not madly acquisitive then you lack scale, if you enter alliances then you lack control. 

Then there is also Simpay, similarly around a year old and this time an alliance of Orange, Telefonica Moviles, T-Mobile and Vodafone. Simpay’s aim is to introduce a standardised method of payment to your mobile bill or pre-paid credit for digital content. Although the aim is not to compete with Visa or Mastercard the idea is to encourage the same understanding that wherever you see the Simpay sign on an operators portal or third party website, you can pay for that content using your phone. Simpay has been working hard to get new members on board, and has so far only been able to announce a series of "expressions of interest" from other operators. But of all the alliances this will perhaps be the most significant, if it takes off. There will also be more on this in the April edition of Mobile Europe, including an interview with ceo Tim Jones.

For now, though, a welcome to all attempts made with the genunine intention of fostering ease of use and interoperability. That increased revenues and profits follow is nothing to be afriad of, either.

By Keith Dyer at CTIA Wireless in Atlanta

Is there a market for group calling from a mobile phone? This would be a feature where you could set up your phone so you could call a group of people all at the same time, effectively setting up an impromptu telephone phone call.

Conferencing specialist Polycom thinks so, and has launched a group conferencing solution through its wireless solutions unit to meet potential demand.

The system works like this. The mobile phone user checks a tick box next to any name he wants to call in his contact list. Then that list of contacts to be called is sent to a call server sitting in the mobile network. The server then simultaneously calls the list. Each called party then hears a message inviting them to a conference call. This can be a generic message from the service provider or could be a message recorded by the caller. They then accept the call and the conference call proceeds.

The system can also be used just to call one person simultaneously on all the numbers listed in the address book, as a kind of crude presence application.

The group calling application can be downloaded onto Java, Symbian, Brew, and RIM devices, with Microsoft a future option, according to general manager of Polycom’s wireless group, Chris Hotz. The client software itself has been written with open APIs so that it can work in a variety of environments, while the call server is based on bridge technology from Voyant, a Polycom acquisition which has about a 50-60% share in the carrier conferencing solutions market.

Hotz admits that the concept of group calling from mobile phones is not new, but says that the new Polycom Mobile Meeting client is greatly simplified from earlier versions, into which Polycom tried to pack far too much full conferencing functionality. The point about instant group calling, Hots says, is that it is very different from normal enterprise conference calls.

"Enterprise conferences tend to take place at the top of the hour with perhaps nine to ten people participating. Group calls are shorter, have fewer people and tend to happen more randomly," he says. The function is also different to push to talk, in that it is a many to many call, rather than the you speak–I speak model of push to talk. In this regard Polycom has an agreement with Sonim, to integrate with Sonim’s PoC based PTT technology to allow a user making a PTT call to upgrade to a full duplex call on the fly. Group calling also doesn’t require the called party to have a compatible handset or client on the handset. Only the calling party needs the group call client.

Group calling from a mobile would add data and voice calls to a mobile operator, Hotz said – the extra data use being accounted for by the requests made to the call server. The proposition will also have potential for multi player gaming and other multimedia applications, he added.

At the moment, Polycom is concentrating on its home US market with the instant group calling product, but with extensive GPRS networks now across Europe, European operators and handset manufacturers would seem a natural opportunity as well.


By Keith Dyer, at CTIA Wireless in Atlanta

OK, so you’re a mobile messaging company whose raison d’etre is to allow operators to help their users, enterprise and consumer get full email functionality onto mobile devices.

Your target customers are therefore mobile operators, and what you offer them is a platform upon which they can offer real time wireless email functionality, whether that be from Exchange or Lotus Notes, and whether that be to devices running Palm OS, Pocket PC, Java or Symbian. Your name is Visto, and armed with $50 million of private equity funding and with the fat feeling of the recent purchase of Psion Software under your belt, you are not shy.

As a little background, the pre-eminent and most successful company in wireless email has undoubtedly been RIM, purveyor of the BlackBerry. With a million units shipped and with a slew of licensing deals announced to get the BlackBerry client onto other mobile phones, BlackBerry has done nicely out of filling the hole between reality and expectation on wireless email. But its problem is it is really a point product. You have to buy a BlackBerry to get the system. If you’re a corporate user you need the BlackBerry server as well. Although there are a million BlackBerries out there, in the grand scheme of things that is not a mass market product.

There are plenty of other forays into this market. Good Technology is a company that has many corporate clients in the USA. Good’s vp of sales and marketing, Sue Forbes, says that the key to delivering mobile email to enterprises is not to be a mobile operator. "On the whole," she says, "enterprises like to talk to an enterprise software company about enterprise software." Mobile operators are "very important partners" Forbes says, providing the devices and the data plans, while Good provides its software to get the email product up and running.

Forbes says that, although email is the most important application, this is about providing access to more corporate applications than email, and therefore enterprises are very twitchy about security. Which is why they like the idea of a partner like Good. Good has very recently opened a European office in the UK, and is looking for VARs to help spread the message, as well as leverage its MNC clients from the US who want to extend functionality to their European offices.

Visto’s ceo, Brian Bogosian, is slightly more forthright on the possible security applications of wireless email. "If they were worried about security, they wouldn’t be buying BlackBerry," he snorts.

He also has little time for Good, the company that is, not the moral concept. "Good doesn’t really compete. It has a direct relationship with enterprises but it doesn’t support Lotus Notes, it supports the Palm Treo 600, but doesn’t have Symbian, and no smartphone support."

The last, Forbes would point out, might depend on your definition of a smartphone. The company does have an agreement to support Pocket PC devices, as well as the Palm OS agreement for the Treo.

Anyway, Bogosian is unimpressed, and says operators aren’t considering Good at all. Nor is he over-chuffed with the argument that RIM is overcoming its device-centric BlackBerry approach by licensing the client to other handset manufacturers.

"There’s a lot of press releases," he says. "On the Nokia the [BlackBerry] performance is unsatisfactory," he offers, by way of example. "We are miles ahead of where they are."

One of Visto’s attractions to operators, Bogosian says, is that it presents a platform that can be branded by the operator either to enterprises or prosumers (his terminology not ours). This also contrasts, Bogosian says, with BlackBerry, which is very brand and device centric. Visto users needn’t know they are on the Visto client at all.

Mobile Europe saw a Visto demonstration on a Nokia phone running Symbian. Connection was from a booth in Atlanta back to a desktop Exchange client in the UK, over AT&T Wireless’ GPRS service in Atlanta. It looked pretty good, with real time synchronisation of calendar and contacts changes, as well as sending and receiving emails, of course.

Good’s approach seems to offer more to the dedicated MS Exchange user. Integrated into the Pocket PC environment users can view and edit standard MS attachments, such as Pocket Excel, and see PDF images rather than as a text file. Good also has both ends of the BlackBerry debate covered, with an agreement with RIM. The lack of Symbian is a problem at the moment, but Forbes was adamant there would be progress there too.

It was mankind versus .net — and mankind won

By Keith Dyer, at CTIA Wireless in Atlanta.

It’s cold in Atlanta, although there are clear blue skies overhead. One other Sun also put in an appearance at the opening session of CTIA Wireless 2004, warming the tone

Scott McNeally rescued a not always comfortable Jeopardy gameshow-style presentation at his keynote speech with a series of withering asides about rival Microsoft, which always plays well. Whether the delegates appreciated his relentless sales schtick and continued, if amusing, ribbing (coinings included Microsoft’s Restart button, and its Lookout email client) is another matter. A slightly stilted presentation on the virtues of Sun’s thin-client Java-card desktop broadcast system struggled at times to stay on message at a show that is dedicated to wireless, but there was probably just enough in there on the mobile applications of Java to keep the audience happy.

Not that McNeally seemed to care. Sporting the jeans and blazer combination UK readers will recognise as the full Clarkson, and a tan that might best be described as the full O’ Connor, the Sun man shone his full patter at the assembled audience, as his straight man foil – a Brit by the way – just about got through his demonstration.

McNeally’s points, roughly, were that Java is a good thing, and is already in one and a half billion devices. Java will become one of the top 25 brands in the world, with ‘Java verified’ and ‘Java powered’ becoming marks of quality assurance. Thin client server computing, with smart cards providing user authentication and a desktop environment on whatever device, will win out in the battle to provide the infrastructure for fixed and mobile web services. Indeed, it has won, according to Scott. It’s secure, it’s portable, it works great in mobile phones as well. "This thing is over. It was mankind versus .net and mankind won. It’s over," he said. Righto, then.

Mind you, if it was stilted over-scripting you wanted, then McNeally’s predecessor as keytnote speaker, new CTIA ceo Steve Largent, had the edge. European readers may or may not be aware that Largent is a pro football hall of famer, and US Congressman of seven years’ standing. This makes him uniquely well qualified to lead a wireless communications body as it faces the crucial challenge of staving off the not always welcome interest of the governmental and regulatory bodies.

Anyway, Largent’s real moment of awkwardness came when he was required to conduct an fireside chat style interview with FCC chairman, Michael Powell. Powell calmly batted away a series of straight deliveries on the intentions of the FCC. Powell said it was not inevitable that the regulator would start treating wireless operators like utilities, as long as the operators behaved responsibly. Message was, ‘behave like good children and play nicely and we won’t have to get involved. Start squabbling and all and we’ll take the ball away ourselves’. There was less candour on the issue of spectrum licensing, auction and trading. Powell said that mobile operators had to look at unlicensed use of spectrum as an opportunity, not as a possible issue for interference. Look at wireless LAN, he said. Mobile operators had been worried about a proliferation of wireless LAN hotspots but now it’s looking more like a business opportunity for them.
Largent creaked his backbone into something resembling a relaxed position, and thanked Chairman Powell for his presence. All in the audience breathed easy.

The last keynote speaker was John Chambers, president of Cisco Systems. But Mobile Europe had to go so we can’t tell you what he said. Long odds on it not being based on the ubiquity of Cisco as mobile goes IP, though.

O2 ceo Dave McGlade is adamant that there is a role for an independent operator in a major European market, and that the operator actually benefits from its smaller size.

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Speaking to Mobile Europe shortly after a rejected bid from KPN  triggered another round of "02 for sale stories", this time with NTT DoCoMo as the main proposed buyer, McGlade put up a spirited defence of the "small is beautiful" philosophy.
"Our view is that we will not compete on size and scale because that's not the play we have. We're not trying to be Vodafone where they do more of a cookie cutter approach across regions in the world. Arun Sarin said if they had won the (AT&T Wireless) bid they would have introduced all the brand and approach that they do at Vodafone. Our approach is exactly the  opposite. Everything is about getting closer to the customer, closer to the local market, being more British in the UK, more German in Germany and using that as our advantage."
McGlade said being smaller actually helped get products to market quicker.
"I actually think at times there's a diseconomy of scale and that diseconomy kicks in where you get more bureaucracy. It's slower to move, you're waiting for a standardised product set that maybe the Germans are developing and it might take six months longer to go to the rest of the world. We can be more fleet of foot and be a bit more customer-centric by being a smaller player with just three countries throughout the group."
McGlade said that the O2 digital music player, a mobile music player device recently launched in the UK, was an example of being able to target an area and deliver the end product.
"We determined that music is a key area we were going to address. There was not a product in the market that we needed. DRM (digital rights management) hadn't been dealt with as well as it should have been, we brought in the compression technology that really works well in terms of spectral efficiency over GPRS. So we went after it and we did it."
Not that McGlade can't concede some of the benefits of belonging to a bigger club. The recently re-branded StarMap alliance will enable the operator to "get better buying power for devices we bring out," as well as  putting together roaming packages and supporting multi-nationals.
Ovum's chief analyst Julian Hewett told Mobile Europe that he agreed with McGlade "in the short term" but added, "In the the long term I have to say that will swing the other way."
Hewett acknowledged the advantages of being able to move quickly. For example Hewett said that mmO2 ceo Peter Erskine had told him the operator was "running rings" round  Vodafone in Ireland when it came to certain business customer issues.
But the advantage of being able to amortise the cost of rolling out a service across a huge subscriber base would mean that in the long run the larger economy of scale would win out.
In terms of who might buy mmO2, Hewett questioned the reasoning behind the rumoured interest from NTT DoCoMo.
"I don't quite understand the motivation. They hope to spread i-mode as if it's almost a gospel of the right way to do things, but it seems a pretty tenuous reason to want to acquire a business to me."

O2 ceo Dave McGlade also had some strong words on the 3G "launches" of some of his competitors.

"I think some of that is getting a little hypey now. Yes, Vodafone said they're going to do data cards and T-Mobile said so too, and Orange too, so everybody feels compelled to say, 'My God I better do it'
"Let's separate the hype from the reality. So data cards are important but it's all part of the mix. The key is to have the right kind of data cards where you can put GPRS and 3G and eventually WiFi on, and have a single GUI and allow users to take advantage of the speeds wherever they are.
"It seems like people are pushing it so hard like 'We're doing data cards now'. They've said, 'We're not going to launch 3G until the summer or fall' ---  but now they're saying they're doing more and more data cards but it feels like, 'Why do they need to try that,? 'OK we're going to do more with the Nokia blah blah blah blah blah'. I think it's a device and it's important but it's just one of a range of things."
McGlade said that O2 still had plans for a 3G launch itself in the second half of 2004.
"We're certainly not going to be the first to launch but when we do launch the handsets will be ready, handover issues will be good, it'll be robust." It will also be crucial that services such as the music player and the O2 active client mean that customers don't view 3G as a huge leap, McGlade said.
"The idea is that it's not going to be any kind of revolution. The reason we do things like bring music to GPRS and look at even downloading and video streaming video is it gives us the chance of developing those products in the current world so that when we launch 3G it's a seamless segueway.
"I also think because it took so long for 3G to come around, the rest of the world caught up. I think the Asians drove that and certainly i-mode and NTT DoCoMo did a lot of that. I think it's now created an environment that it's less of a big deal when you turn a switch and start offering 3G services.
"The only thing I think that's truly differentiated that we can come up with in a 3G world is peer-to-peer video."

If the mobile industry is to make the most of mobile ring back tones and other musical content, it needs to win back the trust of the music industry, a music industry veteran has told Mobile Europe.

Nick Price, director of music content at Muzicall, said, "It has been a long haul to get the relationship re-established because there has been utter hatred between the phone companies and the music companies, who have seen a complete pillaging of their copyright."