Mobiles are music to the ears of Cannes congress

15th February 2005, Comments 0 comments

CANNES, France, Feb 15 (AFP) - Music combined with the fast-growing mobile phone markets in China, India and Africa looks set to get the mobile world rocking around the globe this year.

CANNES, France, Feb 15 (AFP) - Music combined with the fast-growing mobile phone markets in China, India and Africa looks set to get the mobile world rocking around the globe this year.

A slew of new deals to entice music fans away from their iPods and onto their mobile phones and positive messages about the emerging mega mobile markets in China, Africa and India was music to the ears of the thousands of top mobile phone execs who have crowded into this small Mediterranean Riviera resort for this year's premier 3GSM World Congress.

Musical high points Monday included Japanese-Swedish mobile phone maker Sony Ericsson's announcement it would launch a digital Walkman phone next year that it promises will be compatible with the most popular digital music file formats and services.

And world mobile phone leader Nokia was also vying to make a hit with news it has linked up with software giant Microsoft and US music download service Loudeye. This deal will mean users will be able to download songs and ringtones to Nokia handsets that will be equipped with Microsoft's digital music-playing software.

"Music is the next big thing in mobile multimedia," Nokia's Anssi Vanjoki told a press conference here. "We see 2005 as the year when music really goes mobile," Vanjoki said, adding that Nokia sold 10 million phones with integrated music players last year.

Around 38,000 of the top movers and shakers in the global mobile phone industry have crammed into the small chic French seaside resort of Cannes for the four-day 3GSM congress that kicked off Monday, some 10 percent more than last year.

The packed conference rooms and exhibition halls reflect the mood of optimism that is currently suffusing the mobile industry, boosted by the ever-growing numbers of mobile subscribers and arrival of mobile entertainment, led by music and gaming.

The demand for exhibition space has been so great that this will be the last year that the Congress takes place in Cannes. Next year will see it relocate in the more spacious surroundings of Barcelona.

Top of the bill Monday were the new fast-growing markets in China, India, Africa and Latin America.

GSM connected its billionth customer early last year, and has added another quarter of a billion users since then. But with Western Europe fast approaching saturation point, the battle is on snap up mobile opportunities in the most promising markets elsewhere around the globe.

China is the world's GSM market and "Chinese mobile subscribers will pass the 400 million-mark in 2005, taking mobile penetration to 30 percent," Duncan Clark, managing director of Beijing-based consultancy BDA, told a Focus on China seminar at the Congress. Subscribers are signing up at a rate of some five million each month, fuelled by the craze for SMS text messaging, he added.

There are still one billion Chinese customers "still out there", Clark emphasised.

But whilst "China is open to anybody", according to Clark, there are a number of major question marks over how much business a Western operator can expect to win there.

On the handset front, Nokia, Motorola and Samsung "crushed the competition in China last year," and the prospects for weaker foreign players such as Siemens looks bleak, Clark noted.


Subject: French News

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