Maiden profit for iTouch as download sales soar

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The Independent Online

Itouch, the mobile phone content supplier, announced its maiden pre-tax profit yesterday as sales jumped by a third in 2004.

Itouch, the mobile phone content supplier, announced its maiden pre-tax profit yesterday as sales jumped by a third in 2004.

The company, which is 34.8 per cent owned by Independent News & Media, the publisher of The Independent, said it was confident the current year would see further "significant progress".

It intends to start testing a gambling game for mobile phones in the second quarter of this year that will offer blackjack on the move, involving real bets. It is holding talks with gaming groups before signing a partnership agreement. It has already signed a technology agreement for the new service with Zone4Play, an Israeli company.

The fastest growing segment of iTouch's business, sales of consumer data services, soared 229 per cent to £48.6m. The company completed 137 million data transactions during 2004, including 41 million ringtones and 55 million information items such as racing results and horoscopes.

Overall, sales for the group in 2004 were £78m compared with £60m the year before. Pre-tax profits were £3.7m against a loss of £4.9m in 2003. Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation were £8.1m against a loss of £0.1m in 2003.

Wayne Pitout, the iTouch chief executive, predicted that growth from third-generation (3G) phones would not kick in properly until 2007. Before that, growth would come from the continued adoption of the already highly advanced 2.5G phones.

The company said it would continue its strategy of acquisitions to expand into new markets. Last year it bought Jiipii, the branded content provider. In 2003 it bought Movilisto, the Spanish brand.

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