Europe’s mobile industry is looking to a raft of GPRS and 3G services to drive the new revenues that it desperately needs to fund infrastructure investment. To drive the early uptake of new handsets and mobile applications, a new Technographics® Report by Forrester Research B.V. (Nasdaq: FORR) advises operators and manufacturers to focus only on two specific consumer segments in the next 12 months.

“Mobile phones have reached saturation point in Europe. Today, 72% of Europeans aged 16 or older — more than 190 million consumers — own and use a mobile phone,” said Forrester Analyst Paul Jackson. “As the price of mobile calls continues to fall, SMS is the only true non-voice service that consumers are willing to pay for today. While ownership of WAP-enabled phones increased to 23% this year, only 3% of mobile users use WAP. To cap operators’ misery, only 24% of mobile users say that they would be willing to pay for any mobile application via their mobile phones. Despite low consumer interest in added phone functionality, operators and handset manufacturers are committed to adding more new functions and services in the hope that something will stick and become the next mobile generation’s must-have application.”

Forrester advises that operators can, however, successfully target two early-adopter profiles — with entertainment- or business-related advanced functions. And because they appreciate mobile technology beyond voice calls and messaging, these two groups will lead the adoption of GPRS and 3G services.

The first segment that Forrester identified is predominantly made up of young women and accounts for 14% — 27 million consumers — of the mobile population. In addition to making voice calls and using text messaging, these users view their mobiles primarily as a source of and route to entertainment. They are key adopters of conversational content — content that aids communication — in its early form; their consumption will grow rapidly as new services become available. Handset makers should push desirable GPRS handsets for Christmas and then shift the focus in 2003 and 2004 to gaming services, MMS and IM functions, and newer handsets.

“The other group comprises about 15% of the European mobile population — some 29 million consumers; they tend to be career-motivated, high-income professional men,” Jackson added. “These consumers want technologies that will help them organize work tasks, stay in contact with colleagues, and single them out as innovators. They are also less sensitive to price than the average consumer, and they will upgrade through employer subsidies or corporate handset procurement. The phone must initially offer communication — MMS and IM — but these consumers will feel most drawn to flexible mobile email. Over time, operators should offer synchronization with corporate systems. To capture these consumers, operators should pitch business connectivity and efficiency savings in early 2003 to corporate IT and procurement staff. By the end of 2004, many corporate users will have adopted GPRS technology; at the start of 2006, 3G can be positioned to this group as the next logical step for faster, more sophisticated service, with better device integration.”

For the report “Segmenting Europe’s Mobile Consumers,” Forrester drew from its Consumer Technographics Q2 2002 European Study, which had 22,638 respondents in seven markets. The seven markets are France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom.