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Show Me the Volume!

I am not so convinced that we are about to have revenue streams such as those in Europe. The Yankee Group projects that 200 billion messages per year by 2005 will account for five percent of all telecom revenue in the U.S. by 2005. Currently, one percent of revenue is derived from wireless data transmissions. Mobile Lifestreams projects that by December 2002, North America will be sending seven billion messages per month, as compared to 27 billion for the European Union, 10 billion for Asia, and 450 million for Africa.

Mobile industry execs have high hopes that data volumes, which have been a cash cow for the fixed lines, will find a place on the wireless side. Motorola has discontinued all one-way pagers in favor of SMS and its BlackBerry messaging system. At present, there are only two million two-way data subscribers in the U.S. Further, SMS is still viewed by many as a social tool, even within a business setting.

An executive at a premiere brand name multi-national describes how BlackBerry was ordered for the entire product team for the purposes of facilitating communications among the group. Although she remembers several times how useful the instant receipt of facts became, on most occasions, BlackBerry was used to coordinate lunch plans. Besides, when BlackBerry was carried in a briefcase or purse and not on a belt, it was difficult if not impossible for the women in the group to hear the ring tone. By contrast, ring tones have evolved to a high art form overseas, borrowing the technique of sampling from the hip-hop community and alerting their owners with clips from Fat Joe, Eminem, Tweet, Holly Valance, and Ms. Dynamite.

To its credit, Motorola has made some smart moves by teaming with AOL Time Warner to make its AOL Instant Message service available via the BlackBerry handset. During the course of each day, AOL customers send more than one million messages. Likewise, Motorola's new Mobile Café Service will take the company into the content arena by offering wireless content to carriers, including messaging, entertainment, corporate productivity tools, and mobile commerce. Further, the novelty and entertainment qualities have not been lost on Motorola, which has licensed the use of Warner's archive of Looney Tunes characters for adaptation as ring tones, screen savers, and wireless games.

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