Dual-mode phones fail to live up to hype

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Dual-mode phones fail to live up to hype

Only two percent of US mobile subscribers will have dual-mode phones by 2010.

Research published today by Ovum has voiced serious doubts over whether dual-mode phones will ever take off.

"We predict that, by the end of 2010, only just over two per cent of mobile subscribers, or fewer than five and a half million people, will have purchased dual-mode services almost 10 years after vendors first began talking up the technology," said Jan Dawson, vice president of Ovum's US Enterprise Practice.

"Equipment vendors have been fixated on dual-mode phones as the key form of fixed-mobile convergence, but the people responsible for implementing this at the carriers are sceptical that the devices and solutions are ever going to be ready for prime time."

The analyst said that carriers need to expand their horizons and embrace the much broader spectrum of approaches to fixed-mobile convergence other than dual-mode solutions in order to avoid missing developing opportunities.

Dawson explained that the other key forms of convergence include identity convergence and remote access and control.

Identity convergence would allow users to assume the same identity (phone number, email address, user name and password) whether they are using a wired or wireless device.

"But it is actually the online portals like Yahoo, Google, MSN and others that are taking the lead in this area, and the carriers risk being left behind, " Dawson added.

"Remote access and control is nascent today but there is a big opportunity for the carriers to invest in technology and capture this opportunity as it arises."

On the business side, Ovum urges carriers and vendors to focus on mobile e xtension and enterprise gateway services to provide intelligent call routing and control to enterprises seeking to reduce mobile spending.

"These solutions are going to deliver many of the benefits people associate with dual-mode solutions without the costs and hassle of deploying a Wi-Fi infrastructure for voice, or the limitations of dual-mode devices," said Dawson.

"Overall, it is time for a reality check and for carriers to move on to the forms of fixed-mobile convergence which have real potential for commercial launch.

"Recent merger and acquisition activity has left us with three major players with a significant opportunity to combine wire-line and wireless offerings, but we have yet to see any real moves in this direction. Now is the time to act."
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