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Mobile Multimedia Devices Gain Momentum

In their new research report, Strategy Analytics states that they expect Apple's iPhone launch to be a sorely needed boost to the traditional handset market development efforts for cellular-enabled media devices, but the lack of W-CDMA support could prevent it from reaching their volume projections.

David Kerr, Vice President of the Global Wireless Practice at Strategy Analytics states, "While the hype around the iPhone is reaching dangerous levels, one benefit we are already seeing is a greater emphasis from handset OEMs on improving usability and making interaction with the handset easy and intuitive for media and productivity applications. Just as the Motorola RAZR energized design innovation, Apple's strong global brand and reputation for innovation in this area will be a catalyst for change. Traditional handset OEMs must improve or face being cast aside by operators who are looking for both strong usability and brands to drive their data service initiatives."

"It is possible that the lack of 3G cellular connectivity on the phone could be a bigger issue than Apple is ready to admit," adds Chris Ambrosio, Director at Strategy Analytics. "This puts significant pressure on the iPhone to be a strong performer out-of-the gate. European operators, who are increasingly willing to offer devices that emphasize off-portal content, if it helps drive their overall branded services value, will be watching early iPhone performance closely to determine how much impact the non-WCDMA iPhone has on Cingular Wireless churn and growth metrics. This will be a key determinant of whether it is worth adding to their increasingly 3G-focused portfolios."

I'm very encouraged by the form and design of the new wave devices coming to market, and the launch of the Nokia N800 Internet Tablet is one of the more interesting developments. This, and other devices like it, will make the mobile digital media experience attractive to mainstream consumers. Clearly, UI simplicity will be a key driver to widespread adoption, as these devices gain market momentum.

Beyond the early adopter segment of the market, there's a very strong demand for design innovation that aids consumers to easily take their digital media experimentation in new directions. The coming weeks and months that following the prototype demos at CES should be telling. Also, the upcoming CTIA show will be yet another opportunity to see if the iPhone design is really unique, or merely part of a more broader trend.

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