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Wireless study: Expect more ads, teen users


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Wireless subscribers on the rise


(CNN) -- What can the wireless world expect in 2001? More advertisements, more teen-age users and more subscription charges for content, according to a new report.

Handheld device users were inundated with sponsorships and promotions in 2000. Soon cell phone customers will find themselves targeted with similar advertisements, according to a Jupiter Research study of wireless data services trends for this year.

"The momentum on handhelds will continue to grow, with an increasing number of ads appearing in popular applications," wrote analyst Zia Wigder in the report, which was released this week.

U.S. youths could become prime recipients of the wave of wireless ads. Teen use of wireless devices has always lagged in the United States compared to Europe and Asia. However, prepaid cell phone plans will help to make cell phone usage much more popular among teen consumers, the report states.

Unlike 2000, in which companies offered all content free of charge or as part of a package, 2001 will "signal the arrival of the subscription model for wireless content," the report said. And carriers rather than content providers will do the billing, it said.

"Americans have grown around this assumption that we can access things for free on the Internet. The carriers are desperate for people to sign up for wireless Internet use and are loath to charge for content," Wigder said.

"Right now there is no clear way for companies to monetize their wireless content," she said.

Wireless subscribers on the rise


In general, Jupiter Research expects 18 million more people in the United States will become wireless subscribers in 2001, increasing the total number to 128 million. Moreover, the percentage of subscribers with Internet-ready wireless handsets will quadruple during this year.

Despite millions of new users, the wireless market can expect some real challenges in the near future. A key finding of the report:

"While penetration of wireless data services will gain momentum in 2001, a lack of substantial new technology deployments in the United States will stifle true innovation. Location-based services, high-speed networks, and highly sophisticated handsets will remain elusive in 2001."

Jupiter Research, a division of New York-based Jupiter Media Metrix, based its 2001 projections on input from a spectrum of wireless device businesses and the most current consumer survey data.

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Media Metrix

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4:30pm ET, 4/16

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