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Cameras in Mobile Phones Reach Milestone

M:Metrics announced a milestone in the mobile phone services industry, as the number of camera-phone owners climbed to 106 million in the United States, crossing the 50 percent threshold.

Camera-phones are even more ubiquitous in European markets, led by the United Kingdom where three out of every four mobile subscribers own a camera-phone.

M:Metrics reports that the proliferation of this technology is driving a decline of one of the first sources of mobile entertainment revenue: the sale of wallpapers and phone graphics, as increasing numbers of people personalize their phone with photos taken on the mobile device.

"While a camera-phone in the pocket of most mobile phone owners may have picked the proverbial pockets of graphics publishers, the penetration of this technology has a positive impact on operator data revenues overall as consumers increasingly purchase photo messaging bundles," said Mark Donovan, senior vice president and senior analyst, M:Metrics.

Despite a slackening of demand for graphics, Donovan notes that such content is used to good effect by purveyors of off-portal content to entice subscribers to sign up for subscriptions.

"Graphics remain a preferred type of content because of the more attractive terms typically associated with licensing of branded graphical content compared with the revenue splits that music labels and publishers expect from ringtones. However, graphics publishers have to work a lot harder and offer compelling, branded content to generate consumer interest."

Photo messaging has consistently been among the most popular mobile applications across geographies that M:Metrics measures, with as many as 31.3 percent of mobile subscribers sending photos or videos to other phones, e-mail addresses or posting to blogs.

"As the technological abilities and habits of mobile users evolve with the capabilities of the devices they own, new mobile content business opportunities are both created and destroyed," observed Donovan. "As we reported, the proliferation of music-phones is also expanding rapidly, so a natural question is how the music industry will respond as these connected creators potentially take a bite out of the ringtone market."

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