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Mobile market to rise on back of 3G success

Investment in Africa, Eastern Europe and cutting-edge applications expected to drive growth, says research group.

The mobile market will be worth 231 billion euros in Europe, the Middle East and Africa by 2009, according to a report from analysts the Yankee Group.

That's a jump of 54 billion euros ($64.2 billion) since 2004. The growth will be driven by investment in Africa and Eastern Europe and cutting-edge mobile applications and data services.

Declan Lonergan, director of wireless research for Yankee Group, said in a statement: "Emerging markets in the region will drive customer growth, while advanced infotainment applications will fuel demand for data services in the more developed countries."

The analyst said entertainment and information services, ringtones and 3G will account for the largest portion of growth, as it predicts by 2008 almost 30 percent of mobile customers in western Europe will own a 3G phone.

According to the analyst report, although prepaid services will continue to underpin subscriber growth, there will be a "modest decline" in the number of people who use the services.

The sharpest reduction of prepaid customers will be in Europe, where operators are encouraging people to use contract services, Lonergan said.

Dan Ilett of reported from London.