Wireless Services in 2004

The wireless industry continues to grow at break-neck speeds globally, and is now poised to completely reshape as data becomes the primary driver in lieu of voice. When will softphone VoIP clients become common-place and, most importantly, less expensive than traditional WSP minutes? Who knows. But, the commoditization of connectivity is real and I hope that the wireless carriers are learning from the activity in the traditional ISP markets.

Gartner Group releases data on worldwide handset marketshare in 2004:

1. Nokia - 51.7 million
2. Samsung - 23 .0 million
3. Motorola - 22.4 million
4. Siemens - 12.8 million
5. LG - 11.1 million
6. Sony Ericsson - 10.7 million
All Other - 35.4 million

Interestingly, the last category "All Other" is a rapidly growing one as late adopters and users in emerging markets, where growth is tantamount, are relatively cost concious & brand agnostic.

Yankee Group counts the number of wireless customers in the US as of Q3 2004:

1. Cingular - 47.6 million
2. Verizon - 42.1 million
3. Sprint - 23.2 million
4. T-Mobile - 16.3 million
5. Nextel - 14.5 million
All Other - 31.8 million

Interestingly, T-Mobile falls far behind the group when Sprint & Nextel combine at 37.7 million customers.

Most surprisingly, according to Andy Seybold, during 2004, wireless carriers experienced an increase in overall ARPU of about $5 to $15. This is mostly driven by the increased revenue generated by data services. Call me crazy, but this is just a short-term bubble before the network becomes a ubiquitous commodity and the app becomes the value on the service.

Skype may have even more luck with a wireless carrier solution as form factor and habit aren't to change as they are in the PC-based broadband communications world.

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