Trend: Wireless voice reaches saturation in Europe, Japan

Wireless growth in Western Europe and Japan has slowed in recent years as these markets reach saturation. While handset sales continue to grow, voice services are fast becoming a basic commodity distinguished only by price. Some carriers are introducing new mobile data services, but the revenue they generate is tiny compared with traditional cellular voice. Adding to the competition, MVNOs in Europe are segmenting the market and launching low-cost, low-frills services that are poaching customers away from carriers. In some European markets, such as the UK and Sweden, market penetration already exceeds 100 percent.

In Japan, market titan NTT DoCoMo has been losing out to rivak KDDI. The Japanese market could soon grant new 3G licenses, bringing more competition to an already crowded market. Even the US is starting to face the same threat of market commoditization, even though there are fewer carriers now than two years ago.

For more on wireless market saturation:
- read this article from today's Wall Street Journal (sub. req.)