The days of SMS are numbered now that mobile email access is becoming a commodity, research firm Gartner says.
Long the preserve of businessmen in power suits, mobile email is about to hit the masses with one in five email users accessing their accounts wirelessly by 2010, according to Gartner.
Monica Blasso, the firm’s research vice-president, said mobile email had moved beyond the BlackBerry and was increasingly a feature of even low-cost mobile phones, driving consumer adoption.
“By 2012, wireless email products will be fully inter-operable, commoditised and have standard features,” she said. “They will be shipping in larger volumes at greatly reduced prices.”
Today there are less than 20 million wireless email users worldwide, but this will grow to 350 million, or 20 per cent of all email accounts, by 2010, she said.
Blasso added email-enabled phones traditionally lacked consumer-oriented features like cameras, music players, video players and GPS navigation, but this was not the case anymore.
Even the BlackBerry, once chunky and bland, now offers all of the above features in the new BlackBerry 8800 device. Other mobile email devices, like the Motorola MOTO Q 9h, the Palm Treo 750 and the Samsung BlackJack, were all designed with aesthetics, usability and fun features in mind.
The devices, Blasso said, were becoming more personal as the line between personal and professional life blurred.
Robin Simpson, mobile and wireless research director at Gartner Australasia, said mobile email access in Australia would soon be offered for free as part of mobile phone contracts.
“Once email becomes available more or less free of charge by default on your mobile handset, people will gravitate to that rather than just continuing to use SMS,” Simpson said.
He said mobile email uptake in Australia had been held back due to the high access prices charged by carriers, but recent price competition, particularly driven by Hutchison 3 and Virgin Mobile, indicated prices would drop rapidly.
“The interesting thing is that SMS, if you look at it in terms of actual cost for the data, is really expensive, and where we’re heading is you’ll get a free email package when you sign up to your monthly plan,” he said.
July 27, 2007 – 12:35PM