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Asian Adoption of Mobile Data Applications

IDC�s Marco Polo Survey 2005 is conducted across seven key markets in Asia/Pacific - Australia, Hong Kong, Malaysia, PRC, Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan - to understand user perceptions and usage patterns in the wireless handheld market.

Latest findings reveal that, despite the proliferation of content-rich mobile data service offerings, other than text messaging, the adoption of advanced services such as mobile phone payment, online mobile gaming and mobile email have yet to reach noteworthy levels of usage.

�Improved adoption of different mobile data services will go hand in hand with the pervasiveness of mobile handsets capable of supporting such services as well as ease of use,� said Karen V. Rondon, Senior Analyst, Asia/Pacific Telecommunications, IDC Asia/Pacific. �The challenge therefore lies with service operators and mobile phone vendors to educate and accustom the market to the value proposition of such services and mobile devices that come with affordable price tags.�

Mobile phone penetration saw a dramatic growth across Asia/Pacific over the last few years. In 2005, the number of respondents who owned mobile phones reaching 90.2 percent compared with 80.2 percent reported in the previous year. Australia and Singapore showed the highest growth rates of 11 percent, in terms of mobile phone ownership, while Hong Kong and Taiwan declined by three percentage points, reflecting the saturation of mobile phone market. These two countries also registered the highest level of mobile penetration as of 2004, and it was not uncommon for users to own more than two mobile phones.

Along with the increased penetration and sophistication of phone users, this year�s survey also saw a marked preference for mobile phones with color screens over those with black-and white displays. Korea recorded the highest penetration of color display phones, followed by Singapore and Hong Kong. PRC, Australia and Taiwan also recorded notable penetration of color display mobile phones. While Australia and Taiwan are known to be the more advanced mobile markets, Taiwan and PRC are also homes to low-cost mobile phone handsets with advanced features. Smartphones with PDA ownership remains minimal across all countries at less than 5 percent penetration.

�Operators, vendors and content providers will be heartened to learn that more than 50 percent of the users have a less-than-three year phone replacement cycle and this augurs well for the progressive introduction of more and more feature-rich services enabled by upgraded phones," added Rondon.

SMS maintained as the most popular mobile data application, with 65 percent of the users sending text messages everyday. Handset personalization services, playing games offline on the mobile phone and sending camera-phone photos showed encouraging take-up. Survey findings indicate that over 20 percent of users download icons/screensavers/logos/ringtones, send camera-phone taken photos and play offline games, with their mobile phones at least once a month or more frequently. More than 10 percent of users utilize information services, instant messaging and participate in voting events/polls/raffles, via their mobile phone.

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