Developing a viable marketing model for MDS is difficult for several reasons. First, the MDS currently on offer occupy only a small portion of the full scope of services that might be developed. Also, most current MDS are relatively primitive and have far less appeal than the more sophisticated versions that will soon become available. Next, current awareness of MDS availability and features is low. Finally, we can expect subscriber needs to evolve as they learn how to use MDS. Nevertheless, the current findings reveal significant preference patterns.

The MDS phenomenon is emerging as a viable business proposition. In Scandinavia, the combination of geographic isolation, a social system that supports early adoption of new technologies, and operator focus on new market segments forms the basis for a "new geographic focus for mobile technologies" (McKnight, 2001, p. 6). In the vast North American market, where incompatible bearer technologies and poor interoperability were barriers, the rapid diffusion of upgraded GSM and 3G looks likely to create new opportunities. In Asia, Japan and Korea are well ahead.

The challenge will be to apply the power of interactive and personalized technologies to help users cope with the exponential growth of demands on their attention (Goldhaber, 1997). In practice, this demands greater precision and a much finer focus for market segmentation. Such new segmentation strategies require major corporate commitments and shift in marketing strategies, actions that incur higher initial costs. This is consistent with the general model of a disruptive technology advanced by Christensen (1997).


While the phone-centric model currently dominates the MDS stage, over the longer term , more advanced wireless data tools such as mesh networks may well become the prime enabler for technology-based entrepreneurship (McKnight, 2001). From a policy perspective, the strategic intersection between the new value propositions enabled by MDS and liberalization of the telecommunications industry is inherently unstable, so a "wait-and-see" position is prudent.

Much of our thinking about the emerging mobile data services phenomenon is shaped by the immediacy of our experience with the Internet. Yet, a mobile phone inhabits a far more intimate space in our daily lives than television sets or personal computers. Thus, few of the marketing lessons from mass media or electronic commerce are likely to apply to mobile commerce. Many users of cell phones, carrying them everywhere and turning them on 24/7, pay close attention for the incoming stream of calls and text messages. For operators who learn to manage this attention, the new channel is an opportunity to be close to customers and thus to deliver greater value.

There will be many entirely new opportunities. Consider the geographic pattern created by mining cellular networks for data on the current location of millions of subscribers, in which directions they are moving, and at what speeds. The resulting intelligence might be used to redesign pedestrian walkways, control traffic signals, or react to natural disasters. Combined with information about individual subscribers, this creates new market research and surveillance capabilities. The challenge is to understand how to match this supply of knowledge to demand.


  1. The subset of participants reporting MDS use totaled 149. Principal axis factoring was carried out, followed by varimax rotation with Kaiser normalization. Rotations converged in six iterations. The KMO measure of sampling adequacy and Bartlette's tests of sphericity provided support for the validity of factor analysis on the dataset. Varimax rotation facilitated interpretability. Initial runs showed, on the basis of a scree plot and eigenvalues, support for five factors, which explained 48% of the total variation.