The number of mobile email accounts is expected to grow rapidly over the next three years, according to the 'Mobile Email: the quest for differentiation' report from independent market analyst Datamonitor.
The Datamonitor study estimated that there are some 650 million corporate email inboxes worldwide. Based on the assumption that 35% - 40% of these inboxes could potentially be mobilised, Datamonitor placed the global addressable market for enterprise mobile email at around 260 million addresses.
Mobile telecoms operators are in a good position to take advantage of the anticipated growth of mobile email, the report suggests. And as true product differentiation becomes more difficult, pricing and partnerships will become key factors in this growth.
Rapid growth coming
The mobile email market is expected to show rapid growth over the next five years, and provide significant opportunities for mobile operators and mobile infrastructure providers. So-called "push email" technology is relatively mature, and mobile operators are already backing the deployment of mobile email solutions.
Datamonitor expects the growth in the enterprise mobile email market to come from two concurrent trends:
- An increase in the breadth of deployment, where enterprises that have already deployed mobile email would increase the number of employees who have mobile email access;
- An increase in penetration.
In a recent Datamonitor survey, 50% of European enterprises interviewed indicated that they have already deployed mobile email solutions. Mobile Personal information management (PIM) lagged behind slightly with 34% of respondents saying they had already deployed a mobile PIM solution.
This is a notable increase compared to the results of a similar survey conducted in 2004, in which mobile email penetration stood at 39% and mobile PIM penetration stood at 28%.
Another interesting trend in the survey was an even steeper increase in the number of respondents saying they planned to deploy mobile email and mobile PIM over the coming 12 months.
Datamonitor expects global mobile operators' revenues from enterprise mobile email and PIM alone to exceed US$600 million by 2009 - more than three times that of 2005.
According to the report, mobile operators have a vested interest in rolling out mobile email solutions through their networks: they see mobile email as an indispensable element in their competitive strategy. After all, it allows them to make use of excess bandwidth on their networks, especially after 2.5G and 3G network upgrades, and also to reduce subscriber churn. Further down the line, mobile email should become a major source of revenue.
However, mobile email infrastructure providers' revenues are expected to continue to grow, but at a much slower rate than operators' revenues (due to operators' increasing dominance in the value chain). Despite its slower growth, Datamonitor's outlook for this segment of the market remains positive.
The report concludes that mobile email solution providers will need to forge stable, long-term partnerships with mobile operators, device manufacturers, mobile operating system vendors, and systems integrators. This will allow them to exploit all possible sales channels. Such partnerships provide more opportunities for product innovation, and could make it much easier to achieve compatibility with the widest possible range of devices and mobile operating systems.