Cheaper and easier mobile comms on the horizon in 2008

Next year will be the year of the mobile customer, with a range of services and technologies on offer that are much cheaper and easier to use, as well as being much more sociable, according to predictions from the Mobile Data Association (MDA).

More specifically, social networking, flat-rate billing and product simplification will be key themes during 2008, the not-for-profit industry association and other experts declared last week at the MDA's annual analyst forum in London.

"2008 is likely to bring the flat rate tariffs that consumers and businesses have been seeking for some considerable time," said Rob Bamforth, principal analyst at Quocirca. "In addition, devices that work at a level of 'adequate ease' are likely to be a major area of focus - it's not just about adding ever more features, it's about giving users what they truly want, and that's ease of usefulness."

The worldwide mobile phone subscriber base is set to reach 3.75 billion by the end of next year, with the UK contributing some 75 million to this figure, while voice users will increasingly opt for mobile as their communications vehicle, according to the MDA's chairman Mike Short.

Short also predicts that texting madness will continue with UK users sending some 60 billion messages during 2008.

To help meet the impending demand ahead, Short believes that most devices will come with 5GB of storage as standard, while Bluetooth adoption will near the two billion mark worldwide.

Furthermore, 3G will coverage will grow and people will be closely watching the Beijing 2008 Olympics to measure the success of things like mobile TV, user generated content and ticketing.

"Designing mobile devices from the ground up to be easier to use should pay handsome dividends for the mobile industry," said Paul Lee, director of technology, media and telecommunications at Deloitte Research.

"The challenge isn't to have the most technology in each phones. What's more important is to incorporate functionality that's relevant to each category of user."

Maggie Holland

Maggie has been a journalist since 1999, starting her career as an editorial assistant on then-weekly magazine Computing, before working her way up to senior reporter level. In 2006, just weeks before ITPro was launched, Maggie joined Dennis Publishing as a reporter. Having worked her way up to editor of ITPro, she was appointed group editor of CloudPro and ITPro in April 2012. She became the editorial director and took responsibility for ChannelPro, in 2016.

Her areas of particular interest, aside from cloud, include management and C-level issues, the business value of technology, green and environmental issues and careers to name but a few.