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Mobile Data Revolution Changes Distribution

The mobile industry has been moving away from a vertically integrated model controlled by operators and manufacturers, to a more complex horizontal, layered structure, creating new challenges and opportunities for distributors and retailers of cellular phones and data services, according to a new report from Informa Telecoms & Media.

The third edition of Mobile Distribution and Retail, released in March 2006 predicts that content and applications developers will be increasingly influential as the mobile retail distribution structure becomes more complex. New retail channels are being developed, with the direct channels, such as websites and on-net delivery to mobile users, growing in importance.

The trend away from hardware toward data services has implications for distributors and retailers. Until recently, the mobile distribution value chain focused mainly on hardware products, such as handsets, accessories and prepaid top-up cards but has now begun to include content services. At least initially, the rise of content will mainly be made possible through the emerging direct channels, as opposed to traditional bricks-and-mortar retail outlets.

Content and service providers are moving into the market with digital products, such as games and ringtones, and operators are beginning to develop new routes to the end user, all of which is developing the direct channel. As well as specialist direct channel players, direct services are frequently offered as part of the retail operations of companies across most mobile retail sectors.

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