According to the NOP Research Group, the mobile Internet market is set for explosive growth, as the auction of licences for third-generation mobile networks confirmed.
Mobile phone operators are expecting take-up of the new services to be significant. Indeed, Nokia recently suggested that there will be fifty million users of WAP handsets (one of the key technologies for accessing the mobile Internet) within a year-and-a-half.
Mobile Internet research director Colin Strong takes up the story: “Market conditions clearly appear to be right for significant growth in the Mobile Internet market with its existing high penetration of mobile handsets. A recent NOP study estimated that 45% of the population now has a mobile phone, with penetration rising to 66% among 16-20-year-olds. Mobile phone operators have high hopes that Mobile Internet services will create new revenue streams with their customers, as well as increasing loyalty.
In Strong’s view, the challenge is to track the growth in the Mobile Internet market whilst understanding which market segments are likely to grow fastest, what applications are likely to be driving this growth, what is an appropriate pricing structure and what are appropriate price points?
Strong elaborates: “With this in mind, NOP has launched the mobile Internet user study and the business mobile Internet study. These mobile Internet surveys are designed to provide representative tracking of awareness and take-up of this emerging technology. We are covering users – by definition, mainly potential at the moment – and business decision-makers separately, as distinct issues need to be explored with each and different methodologies are required. The surveys are available to a syndicate of subscribers, so that costs can be shared.”
Going into more detail, Strong explained the difference between the two studies: “The mobile study involves 1,000 20-minute telephone interviews with a representative sample of mobile phone users in the UK, and covers the respondent’s mobile phone and Internet usage both at home and at work, plus detailed profile information. It will track awareness and interest in the mobile Internet per se, as well as applications likely to be of interest.
“The business study comprises 500 20-minute telephone interviews with mobile decision-makers in SMEs (small and medium enterprises - that is to say companies with fewer than 500 employees) and 300 20-minute telephone interviews with mobile decision-makers in corporates (companies with more than 500 employees).
“As well as detailed questions on current mobile and Internet usage within the organisation, the survey covers awareness and likely take-up of mobile Internet services and questions understanding of price perceptions and applications that will drive take-up.”
Strong concluded: “We intend to undertake this research every six months. We anticipate that this year coverage will remain focused on the UK and that in late-2000 we will roll out to other European countries, at which point we will also be considering the US and Asia.”
The NOP Research Group is one of the most successful market research agencies in the UK with revenues of over $97 million. It is the nation's largest ad hoc research business, but a fifth of its revenues come from research into markets outside the UK.