Japan’s mobile phone industry expects to ring up a banner year for sales of 3G phones in 2004 and wireless operators around the world will be watching closely as they prepare for similar roll-outs. “(Japan) was always held out as the example that encouraged investors, operators, equipment vendors and so forth to pursue this vision,” said James Carrabino, global head of telecoms, media and technology for ABN AMRO. “2004 is a benchmark year for information flow on service (adoption), where the product differentiation is and how discerning the customer base is.”
Japan now has nearly 14 million 3G users, compared with just a few hundred thousand in European nations like Britain and Italy, where the launch of 3G has been slow out of the blocks, hampered partly by handset shortages. Analysts say further success will hinge on the operators’ ability to launch data services consumers are willing to pay for.
By late December, 3 UK, the British 3G unit of Hong Kong’s Hutchison Whampoa Ltd, had sold little more than one-fifth of the one million phones it had planned to sell in 2003. Continue >>