Europe

U.S. Underdog Nokia Readies American Handset Push

Nokia dominates the handset market globally, with roughly 40% market share. However, in the U.S. it has only about 10% and is an underdog, especially in the smartphone market where Blackberry and the iPhone dominate. (Nokia's smartphone dominance in Europe is one reason the iPhone isn't performing as well there.)

Now the Finnish handset maker is preparing going to flood the U.S. market with a range of new products -- a version of spaghetti on the refrigerator -- to see what gains acceptance and adoption, in the hope of driving more consumer adoption.

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Blackberry is making a broader global push itself but will bump up against Nokia too in perhaps the same way the iPhone has outside the US. It needs to do so in order to defend against what will certainly be an eroding U.S.-based smartphone market share as the iPhone gains adoption in the enterprise and Nokia's more aggressive U.S. move puts pressure on the "e-mail device" maker.

Vodafone Adds Unlimited Data Access to Plans

Vodafone has announced unlimited data access as part of service bundles:

The move means that pay monthly customers will no longer need to buy an additional internet bundle for £7.50 but instead every plan will automatically include internet access. The new plans will give Vodafone customers reliable and fast unlimited* access to their favourite social network sites, email and the whole of the internet when out and about in the UK. Vodafone customers will now have even greater confidence to browse the mobile internet without the worry of additional charges, no matter what monthly plan they choose.

Flat/unlimited pricing removes uncertainty and motivates more mobile Internet usage.

What's also interesting about the release is the following:

Top 4 searches on the Vodafone Mobile Internet (VMI) (ranked by most searched first)

  1. Facebook
  2. Bebo
  3. eBay
  4. Windows live Hotmail

Top 10 mobile internet sites on VMI (ranked by most visited first)

  1. Facebook
  2. Google
  3. BBC
  4. MSN
  5. Bebo
  6. Sony Ericsson
  7. Yahoo
  8. MySpace
  9. Windows live Hotmail
  10. YouTube

We just pulled consumer research from North America that shows limited usage of social networking sites in mobile. More on that later.

French iPhone Sales: Bien Sur!

Apparently iPhone sales in France, which were expected to be slower than the U.S., are going pretty well:

"We thought it would slow at the beginning of the year but we were wrong," [Didier Lombard, head of Orange parent France Telecom] told The Associated Press during a gathering at the Elyse Palace after a speech by French President Nicolas Sarkozy. Lombard said that sales are going "very well," but declined to provide figures due to the blackout period ahead of the announcement of France Telecom's full year results Feb. 6.
Orange said Dec. 5 that it had sold 30,000 iPhones in the five days after it went on sale in France. Lombard had previously said he hopes to sell as many as 100,000 of the handsets by the end of 2007.

At MacWorld, Apple CEO Steve Jobs said that the iPhone had sold 4 million units in the U.S. since it went on sale in June 2007.

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Related: The iPhone's reach in the U.K. so far fall short of estimates: "The [Financial Times] says that between Apple, O2 and the Warehouse, only about 190,000 handsets were sold in the first two months against a target of 200,000."

Nokia Touts Local and Social Aspects of Mobile Search

At a mobile search conference in London, Jussi Pekka Partanen, who heads Nokia's mobile search development efforts, told attendees that Google-style search (based on page ranks) would be insufficient for the personal communications needs of mobile subscribers. Nokia is proving to be one of the biggest true believers in context-based search, including content that is stored on the device, itself. The vision also embraces user-generated content and peer-to-peer communications in a big way. That sounds like the formula for social, mobile search.

Yahoo! Does Display Ad Deal with T-Mobile in the U.K.

There was a time not terribly long ago when Yahoo! was described as slow or often having been outmaneuvered by its rivals in particular acquisition deals or business development. Not so in mobile.

Yahoo! is moving more quickly and aggressively than some of its rivals to lock up ad distribution (and mobile search) deals with carriers around the globe. Accordingly, Yahoo! is now in another deal with another carrier -- this time T-mobile in the U.K. for targeted mobile display ad distribution on its "Web 'n' Walk" service.

The company already has a relationship with Vodafone in the U.K. The top five U.K. mobile operators are Vodafone, O2 (which has the iPhone), Orange, T-mobile and Virgin.

We've forecasted that mobile ad revenues in the major countries of Western Europe (16) will reach $2.76 billion by 2012. Total mobile ad revenues for North American and Europe (as we've defined it) will reach $5.08 billion during that time frame.

Nokia Siemens Puts a Price on Fixed/Mobile Convergence

By agreeing to by subscriber data specialist Apertio for $205 million, Nokia/Siemens highlights the importance of real-time access to a flexible database of subscriber data to telephone carriers introduce and support services that cross customary boundaries between fixed line and mobile communications. Red Herring considers the price to be a hefty premium over previous assessments of the firm's value.

A Spokesperson for Nokia/Siemens noted that the companies have already worked together for a number of years and that Apertio already has Orange, T-Mobile, Vodafone, and O2 as customers and is testing Apertio's technology with at least three U.S. carriers

iPhone Sales in Germany Disappointing So Far

According to Bloomberg:

T-Mobile, the wireless unit of Deutsche Telekom AG, is selling fewer Apple Inc.'s iPhones in Germany than its internal forecasts, Financial Times Deutschland reported, without citing anyone.

T-Mobile is selling fewer than 700 units of the combination handset and iPod digital music player a day, compared with as many as 10,000 mobile devices sold daily during Christmas, the German newspaper reported. T-Mobile is the exclusive distributor and operator of the iPhone in Germany.

The cost of the phone and the different dynamics and maturity of the European market may be responsible for the disappointing sales. In France the iPhone has fared better.

But here's a contradictory report that says the iPhone is a top product in the UK, France and Germany.

O2 and News Group Step up Mobile Couponing in the U.K.

Using the Instant Voucher Systems (IVS) from 2nDimension, British wireless carrier O2 is working with News Group, publisher of The Sun and News of the World, to roll out a service that enables local retailers to scan coupons using a mobile phone.

This marks the end of an eight month trial involving 160 retailers in Kent, involving other News Group properties, the Daily Mail, The Telegraph and The Guardian. Retailers use Nokia E50 camera phones to scan vouchers (coupons) and query a centralized database.

In a move that has implications for local mobile commerce, the same infrastructure can be deployed in retail settings, enabling phones to scan barcodes on food packages or enabling brand advertisers to transmit coupon information directly to handsets.

iPhone Sales in France

French carrier Orange reported to the BBC that 20% of the iPhones being sold in the country are unlocked. The contract phones sell for 399 euros, while the unlocked phones reportedly sell for 749 euros, almost twice as much. The latter translates to $1,098 at today's exchange rate!

According to Reuters, Orange sold 30,000 iPhones in the first weekend, which is .0006% of the market of 51 million. That compares with initial weekend sales in the US equivalent to .001% of the market (243 million).

Right now the iPhone is the biggest selling smartphone in the US. However, Nokia is a much more formidable competitor in Europe and has many smartphones that aim to compete with the iPhone.

Deutsche Telekom Wins Back iPhone Exclusivity

While the legal battle isn't over, the earlier Vodafone-driven ruling that required Deutsche Telekom/T-Mobile to cooperate with use of the iPhone on rival networks has been overturned:

T-Mobile, the exclusive distributor of the iPhone in Germany, had changed the terms for selling the combined handset and iPod music player to comply with the Nov. 21 injunction. The company said after the ruling that it will scrap an unrestricted 999-euro iPhone offer ($1,500) that it introduced to comply with the initial court order.

Consumers will now only be able to buy the phone under the original 399-euro offer with a binding two-year contract. After the end of two years users can have the iPhone unlocked so they can switch to other providers, T-Mobile said.

The ruling was issued by the Regional Court of Hamburg.