It’s all in the application

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Checking the stock market, making payments, navigating the London Underground, learning a foreign language, preparing for a marathon; there seem to be mobile applications available for practically every pursuit and interest these days.

According to research from MediaCells, most handsets are equipped to run complicated third party software, with 85 per cent of devices in the hands of UK consumers now web-capable.

However, only around 20 per cent of the market, or 12.5 million people, actually use their mobile phones to access the internet.

Mobile applications are now one of the few ways network operators can distinguish themselves from the competition, and lead to the Holy Grail of those elusive data revenues which are slowly creeping into most networks’ quarterly results, helping balance the losses from falling voice and text earnings.

But the main protagonists still have to get the experience right before the masses cotton on and proper money can be made.

Third party developer communities, independent of the main mobile phone operating system (OS) providers Symbian, Microsoft and, now, Apple, have sprung up in recent years to extend the range of applications available.

A major function of their web presence is to disseminate beta applications for testing, before they go ‘live’.

Full article appears in Mobile News issue 422 (September 8, 2008).

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