Mobile data services are the next wave of growth for the mobile communications industry amid the increasingly saturated subscriber base.
While messaging will continue to be the main revenue contributor in most emerging and developing mobile data markets, much of the growth potential also lies in premium content.
Greater 3G (third generation) coverage and deployment, expanding regional subscriber base, declining cost of advanced multimedia handsets, and the race to secure a continuous stream of content through partnerships are likely to drive growth of mobile data revenues.
New analysis from global growth consulting company, Frost & Sullivan said Asia'a premium content market, covering 13 major Asia-Pac economies, earned revenues of $9.4 billion in 2005 and is estimated to reach $32.9 billion by the end of 2011.
'Subscribers in most Asia-Pac countries have strong preference for local content, which creates the impetus for the fast-growing mobile content market,' says Frost & Sullivan Industry Manager Janice Chong.
'The pace of 3G adoption, to a certain extent, influences the development of premium content applications by providing greater bandwidth and faster data transmission.'
The Asia Pacific mobile data market is forecasted to grow at a CAGR (compound annual growth rate) of 17.9 percent between 2005 and 2011.
Messaging revenues still constitute the majority of operator-generated data revenues.
In 2005, messaging accounted for approximately 39.6 percent of total operators' data revenues (excluding revenue share of third-party content providers).
The total premium content market, which includes both operator and third- party content provider revenues, held 29.5 percent of total mobile data revenues in 2005 and expects to register a CAGR of 23.2 percent from 2005 to 2011.
In certain Asia Pacific countries, the revenue share ratio skews in favor of mobile operators. As a result, content providers receive a small revenue split. Moreover, content providers are required to pay hefty royalties for applications to music label companies and associations.
These factors have in some ways hindered the growth of the premium content industry in selected countries.