And most stories relating to mobile are far more bright than those of the general economy. A particularly bright spot is mobile data and its rising star is 3G. Funny to think that as little as three years ago there were still pundits who talked of the failure of 3G..
So lets look at the annual report form the world's first 3G commercial launch mobile operator (carrier) ie NTT DoCoMo in Japan. They launched October 1, 2001. Today, over 89% of DoCoMo's subscribers have migrated to 3G (good news). The proportional contribution of mobile data services on the 3G service on DoCoMo rather than their 2G subscribers - is an amazing 44% today (very good news). This shift in use is not at the expense of voice calls, as voice calls on 3G are also marginally more than voice services on 2G (very very good news). Ad what kind of money are we looking at? The data services revenues of NTT DoCoMo's 3G customers, on an average, are 26.50 US dollars per month (wow, truly magnificent news)- yes, 306 dollars per year per 3G subscriber (not per active user, per all 3G subscribers). Note in many Western countries 26 dollars is near the TOTAL average monthly spend of subscribers including voice. In Japan they get that much BEYOND voice.
This level of mobile data service revenues are today sustainable in Japan, the second largest economy on the planet. If we project that usage level to the Industrialized World, it would mean that data services on only 3G networks, in only the Industrialized Countries, would generate approx 300 billion dollars of data services revenues in mobile. This in approx 5 years from now when the world has caught up wtih Japan's lead in 3G. And that is before we add voice call revenue (double that) and that is obvbiously before we add the 3 billion more users of the developing world...
This is a healthy industry. Oh, and by the way, how much is much? NTT DoCoMo has 48 million subscribers in Japan. They made 44.8 billion dollars of total revenues last year, of which 14.7 billion dollars were data services revenues. The company is incredibly profitable with a 37% EBITDA margin.