MOBILE APPLICATIONS: Experts Do a Quick-n-neat

VoicenData Bureau
New Update

The Universal Mobile Telecommunications System (UMTS) Forum’s Market

Aspects Group (MAG) has developed a methodology for evaluating the likely

relative success of future UMTS services and applications.


Today, market researchers are seeking the ‘killer applications’ that will

win in the competitive arena of service offering. Disappointments are likely to

occur. Nevertheless, it’s necessary to work out methodologies for assessing

the degree of success of services or applications in the future 3G mass markets.

With enormous revenues at stake for operators, service providers, manufacturers

and content providers, the entire mobile industry is eagerly seeking the service

and applications that will ensure mass market acceptance for UMTS/3G–anticipated

by the UMTS forum and other observers to exceed 2 billion users globally within

the next decade.


New Knowledge Worker

In the world of desktop computing and fixed Internet, it is office and

personal productivity applications like word processors, spreadsheets, e-mail

and Web-browsing clients that have become dominant fixtures for virtually every

PC user. In the mobile world, the situation becomes more complex. With today’s

circuit-switched 2G networks, the ‘killer application’ is voice, augmented

by a small but growing volume of non-voice traffic from applications like short

messaging service and access via wireless application protocol to information

services like sports results and weather information. Add 3G to the equation and

high-speed connectivity to mobile and fixed networks creates a totally new

category of knowledge worker, unconstrained by geographical limitations and able

to access content-based services anywhere, anytime.

With UMTS/3G networks, the limits of current GSM connection speeds disappear,

delivering an ‘always on’ user experience where the 3G terminal becomes not

just a phone, but a thin client device capable of accessing and interacting with

a whole world of high-value services, characterized by personalization,

customization and location-based features. With a 3G terminal in the pocket,

there is no need to go travelling with local maps for a dozen European cities

stored in the handset–for a small fee one can simply download and view a color

map of the appropriate city center. While there, one can also download a local

language translator module and view menus and prices of local restaurants in one’s

own language and currency.


It is a scenario not dissimilar to the applications service provider model,

where services and applications are hosted centrally and users access these

services whenever and wherever they want to. The difference in the mobile arena

is that there is an increased focus on network intelligence to deliver services

that are relevant to user’s personalized service profile and location at that


The Search for Killer Apps

As the emphasis shifts with 3G away from the width and cost of the ‘pipe’

itself to other factors like network intelligence and richness of services,

network operators, service providers and equipment manufacturers are reassessing

their own market models to understand where the revenue generating opportunities

in this new mobile multimedia value chain will lie.

While the 2G mobile market has been dominated so far now by voice, with 3G

the importance of non-voice services will soon dominate, incorporating

technologies like streaming audio and video, along with business-to-business and

consumer applications from mobile banking and m-commerce to multiplayer gaming,

and ‘online experts’, offering specialist information and advice on hundreds

of topics.


Which of these new-generation services and applications will drive

mass-market uptake of 3G in the same way that the World Wide Web has driven PC

penetration in the home? The UMTS Forum opines that the 3G business will be

driven by a mixture of applications rather than a single killer application.

With regard to this, MAG group has developed a methodology for evaluating which

services are likely to figure highly in the future

The approach taken has been to examine some of the most likely candidate

applications already under development by operators and service providers or

high on end-users’ wish lists and scrutinizing the appeal of each according to

a scoring system developed by the group. Plotting the results of this analysis

reveals that it is a mix of ‘business’ and ‘consumer’ services that are

likely to drive traffic over tomorrow’s 3G networks. Moreover, as distinct

from today’s voice-oriented market, tomorrow’s mobile end-users will be

enjoying and paying for a far richer array of value-added services, courtesy

operators and service providers.

Selection Methodology

MAG’s methodology first classifies each considered service into groups of

services, with each service described by fields representing service

identification features (SIFs). The various SIF fields are then grouped into

service feature classes (SFCs) of homogeneous features. For each SIF, a range of

values is defined with scores provided by a representative sample of people with

similar backgrounds and cultures. SIFs are then evaluated to provide a service

value (SV) for each service considered. Results can be plotted graphically to

show the relative success of services according to that particular sample of



It is important to note that the scoring system employed in the experiment is

purely arbitrary and based on the subjective inputs of MAG members. However,

this methodology has provided qualitative answers in a relatively short period

without having to undertake lengthy market research or interviews–providing

some quick pointers to likely market developments.

Applying the Methodology

MAG’s study listed services that would be most valuable on 3G mobile

networks. For each service, a score between one (least likely) and five (most

likely) was assigned, based on the subjective inputs of MAG members.

First Stage

In the first stage, SIFs were grouped into the following six SFCs:


n Service-related:

Interactivity degree, service portability, virtual home environment, value of

mobility, location dependency importance, global coverage, grade of service, and

cost per session versus 2G

n Traffic-related: Peak

bit rate, sporadic traffic, symmetry of information flow, average number of

sessions, duration of each session, and data bulk per session

n Market-related: Market

segment, likely acceptance in different regions, penetration within the target

segment, alternatives provided by other networks, etc.


n Timeline-related: Launch

year, maturity year

n Players-related: Advertising

potential, content value, m-commerce potential

n Device-related: User

interface medium, processing power requirement, device type.


Services were scored according to these criteria to provide a

description of each service using the same scoring system.

Second Stage

In the second stage, the group focused on two particular SVs, namely:

n 3G versus 2G

service value perspective, and

n End-user value perspective

SIFs were then combined with evaluation criteria of

importance to the relevant SVs with a score ranging from one (low importance) to

five (high importance).

Evaluation criteria for the 3G versus 2G service value

included cost per session versus 2G, peak bit rate, traffic symmetry and

sporadic characteristics, service portability (virtual home environment),

advertising and m-commerce potential and device type.

Evaluation criteria for the end-user service value included

content value, user interface medium, maturity year, service portability, global

coverage, value of mobility, replacements of human/machines and m-commerce


Results and Validity of Observations

Over 30 services were assessed, spanning consumer and business services.

From these, 18 of the most ‘interesting’ services were plotted according to

the criteria discussed earlier. It is important to note that ‘usefulness’

from the end-user’s perspective does not automatically correlate with a ‘high

level of acceptance’ for a particular service. For example, interactive gaming

may rate as ‘not useful’ with business users, but is likely to be among the

most ‘valuable’ services for a teenager.

The likelihood of acceptance of a 3G applications will also

depend on the specific situation in which the end-user is likely to make use of

it. A ‘situational analysis’ is very complex, but it could shed more light

on the potential of specific applications.

Another important issue for which there is no clear answer is

the user’s willingness to pay for 3G services. Knowledge of this information

could help assess the true value of 3G services and indicate which services

operators should best focus in order to ensure an early success of UMTS.

Olivier Burois

Former chairman, Market Aspects Group, UMTS Forum