Mobile game customers will grow more than 16 percent annually, reaching nearly 50 million customers by 2010, substantially increasing total revenue in the sector during that time according to new research.

Mobile gaming for wireless devices is providing new revenue opportunities for game developers, network operators, service providers and handset manufacturers, as technology continues to advance, reported research firm IDC.

Also, improved handset technology, flexible billing mechanisms, and the availability of wireless broadband (3G) networks is helping to improve the mobile gaming experience, enticing more consumers to jump on board.

IDC conducted a survey which revealed that 11 percent of respondents purchased at least one game for their wireless device in the third quarter of 2006. The average price of the games was $13.00, but the firm predicts an increase of more than $2.50 by 2010.

Flexible discovery and billing mechanisms are emerging trends making mobile game purchases easier and more attractive to consumers, says Lewis Ward, research manager of IDC's Mobile Consumer Services.

More than three quarters of all games being purchased by respondents were based on a one-time unlimited use model -the largest category. However, IDC models suggest that subscription-based channels will gain traction and represent a third of total revenue by the end of the decade.

Game bundles, flat subscription fees that include access to multiple games, weekly game rentals, pay-per-play and other models today compliment the standard one-time purchasing model or single-game monthly subscription model, Ward concluded.