Analysts doubt PTT take up

A number of market analysts have expressed doubt over the potential take-up of so-called "push-to-talk" (PTT) mobile services...

A number of market analysts have expressed doubt over the potential take-up of so-called "push-to-talk" (PTT) mobile services following the recent UK launch of the Orange service.

Push-to-talk sees users being able to immediately contact groups of fellow workers via voice or data by using a mobile phone in a similar way as a walkie talkie.

The technology has already enjoyed impressive take up in the US where the bulk of the current universe of 12m users is located. However, analysts feel that Orange’s initial 1m take-up target in the UK over the first 12 months is too optimistic.

Devine Kofiloto, principal analyst at EMC, said when 3G operator Hutchison launched its service in the UK it had a similar target, but fell well short of it.

Kofiloto said that as PTT was another new technology, it would need the support of more operators before the public started to take interest in it. He said Vodafone and T-Mobile were expected to announce rival PTT services in the coming months.

Mark Blowers, senior research analyst at Butler Group, also said Orange’s user target was optimistic. Blowers said: "To use PTT you need new handsets and business needs a good reason to upgrade. The Orange service relies on the Treo PDA which so far hasn’t been a large seller on the UK market."

Blowers did however praise Orange’s PTT "buddy" facility which allows users to see who is available to talk or receive a data message at any given time. This so-called "presence functionality" was a good idea, said Blowers.

The Orange PTT service will be available in the second quarter after trials at selected firms.

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This article was part of Computer Weekly's enterprise mobile business channel, sponsored by Nokia

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