European Mobile Market: Beyond Price-based Strategies. Laura Allen Phillips, Research Analyst, Parks Associates

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1 European Mobile Market: Beyond Price-based Strategies Laura Allen Phillips, Research Analyst, Parks Associates

2 A Paradigm Shift Italy The European Mobile Industry European Mobile Market: Beyond Price-based Strategies 2010 Parks Associates Western European Smartphone Penetration Rate by Country (End of Year 2009) The saturated markets Spain of Western Europe present a number of challenges to mobile carriers. Competition is fierce, and new tariff regulations are having a decided impact on voice service revenues. For the multinational carriers that dominate the region, addressing these challenges means looking beyond simple price-based strategies. They must contend with mobile penetration rates over 100% in many regions 1 and a diverse user base with, for example, varying Germany levels of adoption for smartphones and data services. Carriers must pursue multiple strategies in order to expand their postpaid user bases and find more effective ways of monetizing their data network capabilities. France 0% 5% 10% 15% 20% 25% 30% 35% European carriers must pursue multiple strategies to expand their postpaid user 2010 bases Parks Associates and sustain ARPU. Western European Mobile Penetration Rate by Country (By Subscribers, End of Year 2009) Italy Spain Germany France Western Europe includes Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom 0% 50% 100% 150% 2010 Parks Associates 1 The mobile penetration rate reflects the number of connections within a population, not the number of subscribers. In mature markets, such as those of Western Europe, many mobile phone users have multiple active handsets or SIM cards in use. Also accounted for within the mobile penetration rate are the prepaid accounts that may not currently be active. 1

3 Western European Smartphone Penetration Rate by Country (End of Year 2009) Italy Spain Germany France 0% 5% 10% 15% 20% 25% 30% 35% 2010 Parks Associates Regulations, Competition, and Churn In 2009, the EU introduced new regulations limiting the amount carriers could charge to other carriers for calls Western European Mobile Penetration Rate terminating on their networks. by Referred Country to as (By mobile Subscribers, termination End rates, of Year or MTRs, 2009) these charges constitute a measurable portion of carrier voice revenues. As the lower MTRs went into effect, mobile voice revenues in most European markets fell markedly. The top four multinational carriers, Vodafone, Telefonica, T-Mobile, and Orange, each attributed a large portion of their 2009 voice Italy revenue declines to the mandated reduction of termination fees. Further MTR reductions Western Europe are scheduled for While carriers are adjusting to these reductions by increasing includes Austria, the efficiency with which they handle calls originating Spainoutside their networks, the reduced revenues will continue Belgium, to have Denmark, an appreciable impact France, Germany, on their bottom line. Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Spain, Overcoming the impact of reduced termination rates is not, however, the only challenge faced by European mobile Sweden, Switzerland, carriers. Mobile markets Germany in Europe are highly competitive. Carriers operating within and those the markets United face intense pricing pressures and a churn rate fueled by the region s high proportion of prepaid connections Kingdom 2. Flat-rate plans, low-priced service bundles, and perks France like free evening and weekend voice usage with high MMS/SMS allowances drive down ARPU, but they have become necessary for European carriers competing for mobile subscribers. 0% 50% 100% 150% Large multinational carriers that operate across the most competitive markets in the region have experienced a consistent decline in voice 2010 ARPU. Parks Associates From the end of 2008 to mid 2010, the average voice ARPU for Vodafone, which operates in the, Germany, Spain, and Italy, fell by almost 19%. T-Mobile reported declines in Germany and the, where voice ARPU fell by close to 12% and 25%, respectively, over the same period. Telefonica and Orange also experienced voice ARPU reductions from 2008 to This is especially true for Italy and the, where prepaid subscribers make up 79% and 62% of the overall subscriber base, respectively. 2

4 Facing the Challenges Evolving Beyond Price-based Strategies European mobile carriers are beginning to look beyond price-based strategies, diversifying their efforts as they seek to buoy sagging service revenues. Most of these efforts fall into two basic categories: Postpaid subscriber additions and conversions: Traditionally, such efforts have centered on reduced, simplified, or bundled pricing for voice and data services. While these pricing schemes still constitute a large portion of high-end subscriber attainment and retention strategies, carriers are increasingly launching other differentiating initiatives such as network and handset portfolio upgrades and customer service programs. Network and handset portfolio upgrades offer an additional advantage in that they facilitate and promote the adoption of more data services. More effective monetization of network data capacities: As is the case with voice services, some data service strategies are based on pricing and service bundling. These are not all centered on reduced rates but include service plans whose pricing correlates more closely to actual data usage. Other common data service strategies include online application stores; the addition of more mobile devices, such as tablets and laptops, onto the network; and targeted data and value-added service (VAS) options, such as music services and social networking options. Examples of New Strategies Carrier Strategic Efforts Increased its handset portfolio to include several high-end handsets including iphone and Blackberry models as well as a line of self-branded low-end basic phone models Upgraded network to HSPDA in Germany, Portugal, Italy, Spain, and the ; plans to roll out LTE networks in Europe in Launched mobile dongles across Europe to add mobile PC connectivity customers to its subscriber base Launched the Vodafone 360 suite of Internet services for mobile devices suite includes messaging, social networking, multimedia, and other data services Launched the mstore in 2009, offering over 1,000 apps and services to all Movistar subscriber phones and other devices Began LTE testing in Spain and the in 2009 in preparation for network rollouts Continued to add high-end handsets including the iphone 3Gs and the Palm Pre to its European lineup 3

5 Carrier Strategic Efforts Launched the T-Mobile G1 in 2009 as part of its initiative to add more premium smartphone handsets to its lineup; other inclusions include the iphone 3GS (Europe), Blackberry Bold, and HTC Touch2 Conducted LTE trials in Germany in late 2008 Rolled out a large number of applications for mobile Internet usage, including the MyCommunity service that grants users easy access and contact options on a simplified UI Launched the Music Zone music service in Greece with plans to launch similar services in other markets Upgraded to HSDPA network in the, France, and Switzerland Partnered with Google to bring Google Mobile App to mobile customers in Europe Launched Internet/Business Anywhere Service designed to attract business travelers to adopt mobile broadband services Speaking to the success of these efforts, Telefonica added 3.5 million contract subscribers in Europe in 2009, increasing its postpaid subscriber base from 51% to 54% of its overall connections base. Orange was less successful, adding only 2.4 million postpaid subscribers, followed by Vodafone and T-Mobile with 1.9 million and 400,000, respectively. While Telefonica credits reduced rates and more attractive service bundles as factors leading to its postpaid subscriber additions, the carrier also attributes some contract account gains to its handset strategies and improved data service offerings. Orange increased its postpaid subscriber base in France by 5.7% owing, in part, to its promotion of mobile broadband and data services designed to appeal to frequent business travelers. With regard to increased monetization of data-based services, carriers have reported some successes as well. Data revenues for Orange in Europe rose approximately 18% from 2008 to 2009, and Vodafone s data revenues increased by 15% over that same period. Both carriers credit their recent efforts to enhance and increase their data service offerings as the cause for these increases. 4

6 The Road Ahead Competition and the effects of EU regulations will continue to impact carriers in the European mobile market. The ongoing push to attract more postpaid subscribers and the active pursuit of data revenues are helping carriers to offset declining voice revenues; however, gains from these efforts are not keeping pace with the declines. In fact, pricebased efforts to expand the postpaid user base are driving down ARPU in the high-end segment, bringing overall ARPU down even as the postpaid subscriber base grows. The impact of this trend on overall ARPU will dissipate over time as more prepaid connections are converted to postpaid accounts. Furthermore, postpaid subscriber additions gained through non-price-based initiatives will help to slow the decline of postpaid ARPU, which will also reduce the rate of overall ARPU decline. As a result of these challenges, carrier strategies must continue to evolve beyond simple price-based competition models. Data services offer an enormous opportunity to increase ARPU revenues. Carriers pursuing these solutions through innovation and diverse service offerings will fare far better than those that base their data strategies on pricing policies and service bundling. Most carriers have already hit upon this idea and are actively pursuing data strategies, including the launch of new services such as social networking tools, application stores, music, and other entertainment services, as well as the introduction of more mobile devices onto their networks. As these efforts help drive the uptake of mobile data services, data will continue to grow as a proportion of service revenues. Data revenues within the region will rise from the current average of 31% to over 46% of overall service revenues by While this rise may not be enough to arrest the downward trend, it will help stabilize carrier service revenues. 5

7 Interest in Monitoring and Control About the Author Laura Allen Phillips joined Parks Associates in Since joining the research team, she has worked in numerous areas, including consumer research, home systems and controls, security, digital health, online entertainment, and the mobile industry. She has contributed to or co-authored several multiclient studies, research reports, and custom projects and has most recently authored Mobile Services: Global Outlook (Second Edition) in August Prior to joining Parks Associates, Laura worked in the CAD and CRM software industry. Laura earned a BA in history from the University of Texas at Austin. Industry Expertise: Online entertainment, digital health, online gaming and the mobile industry About Parks Associates Parks Associates is an internationally recognized market research and consulting company specializing in emerging consumer technology products and services. Founded in 1986, Parks Associates creates research capital for companies ranging from Fortune 500 to small start-ups through market reports, primary studies, consumer research, custom research, workshops, executive conferences, and annual service subscriptions. The company s expertise includes new media, digital entertainment and gaming, home networks, Internet and television services, digital health, mobile applications and services, consumer electronics, energy management, and home control systems and security. Each year, Parks Associates hosts executive thought leadership conferences CONNECTIONS, with support from the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), and CONNECTIONS Europe. parksassociates.com connectionsconference.com connectionseurope.com connectionsindustryinsights.com CONNECTIONS Europe Summits, produced by Parks Associates, are executive events offering high-level analysis and consumer research, networking opportunities, and information on emerging residential and mobile technologies and services. CONNECTIONS Europe features consumer and industry research presented by Parks Associates analysts and insights from top executives developing new products and services for the digital home and digital living markets. The next CONNECTIONS Europe Summit will take place in Amsterdam, Netherlands, November 2010, and focus on digital media, consumer electronics, and market opportunities for TV operators, content developers, advertisers, and manufacturers. Topics: Broadband Value-Added Services: Customer Satisfaction and Technical Support Mobile Broadband: Devices, Strategies, and Consumer Demand Next-Gen Video Services: Personalization and Flexibility Consumers and Connected Consumer Electronics Content Delivery and Control for Connected TVs Extending the Video Experience to Multiple Screens Managing Video Content Value-added Services & the Video Ecosystem Mobile Video: The Cloud, the App Store, and the Connected Home 6

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