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Mobile

Verizon camera aims for picture profit

Verizon Wireless will focus this year on increasing revenue from the side of its business that doesn't involve voice calls, an executive says.

Verizon Wireless will focus this year on increasing revenue from the side of its business that doesn't involve voice calls, the chief executive of parent company Verizon Communications said Monday.

"We are really going to focus on data" in 2003, CEO Ivan Seidenberg told analysts attending Monday's Merrill Lynch Global Communications Conference. Verizon Wireless, which has 32.5 million subscribers, is a joint venture between Verizon Communications and U.K.-based wireless carrier Vodafone.

One of its first steps will be to introduce a camera phone, Seidenberg said, and presumably services such as "wireless postcards," which let owners of cell phones send and receive photos. T-Mobile USA, AT&T Wireless, Sprint PCS and Cingular Wireless already sell camera-phones.

With increased competition undercutting prices on a voice call, wireless carriers are scrambling to find new sources of revenue. Wireless e-mailing, downloadable games and ring tones are among the earliest efforts by North American carriers. While wildly popular overseas, U.S. consumers are still fickle about using such services, although they've been around for almost two years.

Seidenberg didn't disclose Monday how much of Verizon Wireless's revenue comes from its wireless Web offerings, which include wireless e-mails, monthly Web access and downloadable games from its "Get It Now" service. However, he did note that about 10 percent to 12 percent of Vodafone's revenue is from non-voice offerings.

"We're getting a lift," Seidenberg said. "But we're not quite that high."