Weekly Wrap: Contradictions Abound. No They Don't
By Carlo Longino, Fri Jan 16 09:00:00 GMT 2004

The ringtone industry is booming, or floundering, depending on who you believe, and the latest research says mobile phones are safe. For now...

This week saw two totally different takes on the state of the ringtone market. A report from the ARC Group says $3.2 billion worth of ringtones were sold in 2003, while Juniper Research says it was only $1 billion. ARC says the business is still on the rise; Juniper says it will be worth half of what it is now by 2008. The truth, as usual, is probably somewhere in between.

British scientists had the most recent word in the ongoing series of contradictions that's the world of mobile radiation and its effects, saying they can't find any evidence that mobile phones are harmful to human health. So this week, we're all safe, except the researchers did repeat the advice that kids limit their use of mobile phones.

One thing that's not in doubt is that the Wi-Fi equipment market is red hot. A report from In-Stat/MDR this week said the home equipment market was up 214% last year, even as 802.11b sales dropped in favor of faster 802.11g gear. Another report suggests the enterprise market will offer a great opportunity for growth in 2004, with 80 percent of businesses looking to spend money on WLAN equipment in the first half of the year. But the home market looks continue to grow, particularly as people look to stay in touch with the office from their couch.

Orange announced this week that it will soon offer push-to-talk services across Europe. It's the first carrier in Europe, and the first GSM carrier worldwide, to do so, and hopes to emulate the success and high ARPU that US carrier Nextel has had with the walkie-talkie like feature.

Last week's Consumer Electronics Show saw the re-emergence of Wildseed, a company developing youth-focused phones that utilize interchangeable "skins" that feature images and related content. Kyocera was developing a CDMA handset that used the skins until it was dropped last year, but Wildseed has found a new manufacturer, Curitel of Korea, to build a GSM model.

Mobile network application developer Redknee said this week it delivered a system to O2 Germany that allows users to have multiple SIM cards linked to the same phone number. The system solves the multiple-device paradox with, well, multiple devices. It's got a Web-based interface that lets users determine which types of traffic go to which devices, for instance sending voice calls to a normal phone handset and WAP traffic to a devoted data device.

Elsewhere on the site this week, Howard Rheingold takes a look at how modern media and communications will affect the future of urban planning, Eric Lin tells us about how oppressive regimes are cracking down on cameraphones, and Justin Hall takes a look at what wireless is bringing to adult toys.