Thursday, March 30, 2006

JupiterResearch: EMEA 3G reality - part 2

Thomas Husson revisits his comments on the European 3G scene from the end of last year at the Jupiter Analyst Weblogs. He starts that "looking at recent figures published by operators, I estimate the number of 3G phone owners to be around 23M in Europe" and finds that:

  • Italy is the clear leader and passed the 10M mark
  • UK ranks second with over 4M
  • 3 remains the leading operator in Europe, having launched 18 months before the main operators and having been agressive as a new entrant. However, growth is slowing down in the UK. In June, the subsidiary of Hutchinson Whampoa had 3.2 M customers. It reached 3,6 in March 2006, but those figures include the newly launched subsidiary in Ireland. Is there a churn issue ?
  • Vodafone performed well and reached its 10M target globally before end March 2006 as announced. However, this figure includes the Japanese subsidiary.
To put things in perspective, Husson says "the penetration rate is below 7% of the European mobile population. Again, no doubt 3G will come (there are still some voices to claim that Wimax is a threat) but it will need a few more years to fully reach mass-market as explained in our 3G report. Japan passed the 50% mark recently, almost 5 years after launch, but the increase has been dramatic in the last few months."

Husson then makes a few more points:
  • Operators have smartly used music, TV & Video to sell 3G and forgot about WAP, 3D games, higher bandwidth
  • Video calling is still promoted but market education will take a long time, as long as the installed base is not there even if you get 2 phones for the price of one. I have personally tried the service and the user experience is funny but not that convenient. You have to choose between a voice call and a video call and cannot switch from one to the other. However, the video call button has introduced a new Direct to Consumers business : video short codes. This channel will be the new IVR and not surprisingly, adult content is being promoted; You don't have to connect throught the househould Internet but simply and directly from your personal device.
  • Quality even for voice calls is not always there. I have some friends who have been particularly disappointed at home (poor indoor coverage yet). It would be interesting to compare satisfaction on battery life as well.
  • HSDPA will be launched this year, mainly for business users but no this is not trully "mobile ADSL" for consumers. Not yet. But speed will be there and some clever sponsorship have been signed in Formula 1. Ever heard of the newly called Vodafone McLaren Mercedes...
  • Mobile broadband will really emerge when the "all you can eat flat-rate" offers will be there. Bouygues has launched such a tariff in France. T-Mobile has announced one and many will follow, partly replicating what happened in the Internet world.