Year in Review: 2009 - a year of progress

Europe suffered a financial upheaval in 2009 that hasn't been experienced since the end of WW2. The banking industry has undergone fundamental changes that will have an impact on consumers and businesses alike, and the debt burdens now being carried by many governments will have long-lasting effects on the tax levy that consumers and companies will experience.

But regardless of this trauma, the mobile telecoms industry ploughed through 2009 with ambition in the hope that consumers saw their mobile phones as indispensable--and largely this proved to be true.

While the decline in voice revenues continued--as anticipated, European operators mounted campaigns to gain incremental income from data services. In this they largely achieved their ambitions, and a new world of mobile applications started to gain interest and usage.

This new world, albeit attempted many times in the past, could offer mobile operators a route forward into gaining a significant proportion of their revenues from services. But this income potential attracts competition, and the fight is on as to whether operators can secure a meaningful position in the value chain.

Nokia certainly saw this shift to services as hardware became more of a commodity. However, conceit has been its downfall in not being able to capitalise on the opportunity, and many observers will watch this one-time industry leader with huge interest in 2010 to see if it can make the transition.

High-profile technology such as LTE and femtocells suffered, as to be expected, from hype and adventurous marketing. Both will have their day in the sun, with femtocells more likely to see wider acceptance in 2010, but LTE will be several years away.

However, overall 2009 was a year of progress with mobile broadband becoming a reality and smartphones starting to make an impact and change the European landscape.

Without these, things could have been considerably worse.-Paul

P.S. FierceWirelessEurope will be on publishing hiatus until Tuesday, Jan. 5. Have a memorable and safe holiday season. We'll see you back here in 2010.