Search to displace email as killer application


7 Feb 2006

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This year search is set to displace email as the most widely used digital application, new research from Deloitte’s Technology, Media & Telecoms industry group shows. The group also predicts more girls will take to video games and subscription radio will soar while mobile television and 3G disappoint.

Search will displace email as the most-used application due to rising functionality, higher-speed connectivity and the 20 exabytes of new digital data expected to be created in 2006. At the same time we’re unlikely to see major advances in search engine user interfaces, implying even more potential value to be captured in the future.

Connectivity will transform devices into services, according to Deloitte. Devices from cameras to cars will be able to be remotely upgraded and updated. Updates will extend from personal computers and mobile phones to GPS receivers, in-car computers and set-top boxes, creating an opportunity for manufacturers to improve their understanding of customer needs, provide higher-quality service and identify new revenue opportunities.

A dark cloud that looms on the horizon is the threat of a deepening digital divide. Historically, Deloitte points out, the digital divide has been most noticeable between developed and developing countries. This is likely to continue in 2006. Efforts to bridge the digital divide fail to address the underlying problems, including economic, political and social issues. Those on the ‘losing’ end of the divide will be increasingly disadvantaged by their lack of access to the media, to the internet, to electronic communications and to information.

Deloitte predicts 2006 will be a frustrating year for 3G because users’ data needs are currently being met by existing standards and users don’t feel they need to pay for more services than they need. 3G will add tens of millions of subscribers but nowhere near enough to pay back the tens of billions of dollars invested. 2G will continue to represent most of the growth, revenue and margin for the mobile sector.

This year the mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) trend could take off with telecom providers looking for new sources of revenue, content companies seeking new channels and all kinds of companies seeking to leverage their loyal customer bases.

Mobile television, for some time now promoted as the next big thing, will disappoint consumers, Deloitte predicts. Despite tens of millions of promotional euros spent on the genre, consumer acceptance will lag.

The market for video games, however, is looking up with games developers and console manufacturers seeking new audiences. Young girls are likely to be the fastest growth segment of the video games market.

The second generation of radio as we know it — radio 2.0 — in terms of existing FM and new fields like digital radio will follow television as its business model evolves from being advertising dominated to subscription dominated. New delivery mechanisms such as internet-based services will be launched. For example, there are currently 12 million US satellite radio subscribers and this market is expected to grow 35pc a year until 2010.

“While the technology, telecom and media/entertainment industries are certainly converging we have identified the key trends in each sector that we expect for 2006,” said Tom Cassin, head of the Deloitte Technology, Media and Telecoms industry group in Ireland.

“There will be some big winners and some big losers and some, as always, that gain acceptance at a slower rate than their initial hype forecast,” he said.

By John Kennedy