Data services are not catching the public imagination even in mature markets, according to the latest survey from IDC. The research firm's annual round up of the Far Eastern mobile market found that, while SMS is universally popular, fewer than 10 per cent of customers are using other data services such as MMS or mobile email.
Data services will come on stream only when more capable handsets filter down through the market and prices for services fall, according to Karen Rondon, senior analyst for Asia/Pacific telecoms at IDC. "The challenge lies with service operators and mobile phone vendors to educate and accustom the market to the value proposition of such services, and to provide mobile devices that come with affordable price tags," she said.
The survey found that 10 per cent growth in handset ownership is still the norm for the region, and that mobile penetration has reached 90 per cent. But data services are still failing to take off, even in advanced markets like Hong Kong. One in five of those surveyed sent a text message weekly, and playing games offline was the second most popular activity at just over 10 per cent. Fewer than 20 per cent of respondents download a new ring-tone or screensaver every month, and fewer than five per cent access email for either personal or business use in the same period.