While mobile penetration in the German market increased to more than 130 per cent in 2009, analysts are expecting overall operator revenues to have declined by around two to three per cent, and are forecasting a similar fall this year.
According to a report from Telecompaper, while non-voice revenues increased by €142 million over the year, this boost was not able to compensate for the continued pressure on voice service revenues from cuts to mobile termination fees and fierce competition.
However, T-Mobile Germany was able to gain from the 2.2 million new subscribers (bringing the total to 108 million) and increased its leadership position by 0.8 per cent to over 36 per cent market share. Meanwhile, Vodafone Germany's weaker performance--particularly in post paid--contributed to a loss of 1.4 per cent to a market share below 34 per cent.
The two smaller players, E-Plus and O2 Germany, both gained by growth in the prepaid segment, helping them to compensate for their drop in post paid and slightly increasing their share of total service revenues by respectively 0.4 and 0.3 per cent.
The traditional year-end boost to handset sales failed to appear in the UK with numbers sold rising by 0.5 per cent to 633,000 units by week 49 compared with 2008, but they then showed a sudden dip in the last two weeks. According to one senior industry source, the slowdown reflected some operators reaching the end of their budgets.
According to the market research firm GfK, sales for week 50 saw a fall of 2.7 per cent compared with 2008, to 655,000 units, while week 51 (ended 18 December), the last full trading week, recorded an even bigger fall on 2008 of 6.4 per cent to 726,000 units.
This data goes against the bullish statements released by the UK operators that they had ‘the best Christmas ever', and with retailers reporting they had exceeded their 2009 targets. "Christmas was a successful trading period for Phones 4u, with positive sales numbers resulting in the business finishing 2009 ahead of targets," said trading director Scott Hooton.
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