3G Data Woos Back Business Users
By Eric Lin, Thu Feb 19 22:00:00 GMT 2004

Many of the networks have shifted their focus from the business user to the youth market, or so it seems from their advertising. This was starting to make business users feel like second class citizens, until data-only 3G launches last week brought heavy data users back into the spotlight. And you thought it was just a sneaky way to soft-launch a new network…

Chris Comley is upset, or he was upset until last week. He was tired of 3G services being wasted on young users, advertising their video calls and multimedia downloads. While trying to make 3G sound as cool as possible, Chris was angry that the networks were ignoring business users- like him. He has a point- in order to pay back the huge debt accumulated from buying 3G licenses, shouldn't carriers target 3G at the group with the most money to spend, the business users?

After months of being subjected to commercials of "stupid people making pointless video phone calls," Vodafone and T-Mobile have both launched 3G in the UK as data-only services. Many pundits, especially in the gadget world, saw these data-only launches as soft launches. It was generally regarded as a way for carriers to test and make a little money on their new 3G networks until the long-awaited handsets arrived. But Chris has a different view- by launching as a data only service, T-Mobile and Vodafone are nailing the business class users, skipping video calls in favor of the fast data that power users want so desperately. Of course the big operators will add handsets capable of video calls eventually. The big question will be if they will continue to woo business users, or they refocus their efforts on the youth market- the very tactic that roused the businessman's ire to begin with.

3G data cards for laptops from Vodafone and T-Mobile are capturing the business users 3 is ignoring by only offering handsets, especially since no handsets on 3 had Bluetooth- until yesterday, when they quietly unveiled the Motorola A925. The A925 offers a few upgrades to the Symbian UIQ-based smartphone, one of which is the addition of Bluetooth. Now 3 users can make video calls and get fast data on the go too. Mr. Comley, your new handset is waiting for you at the nearest 3 store.