Mobile

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  • March 7, 2017

    Mobile World Congress: a look at tech & media

    Smartphone hardware did not take centre stage at the year’s premier mobile industry event in Barcelona, with license-built Nokias generating as much excitement as flagship smartphones from HTC, Sony and Samsung. In VR, AR and IoT, the most impressive signs of progress were under the hood rather than in flashy device announcements – as the actual use cases become more specific, so does hardware and software. Concrete business applications around the personal data generated by connected mobile devices was a major theme, with new types of automation and personalisation in services and media – and a growing market for security.

  • February 28, 2017

    Fashion’s new look: digital sets new trends

    Fashion underpins the growth of ecommerce; online took a 14% share of all fashion retail in the UK last year and is set to rise further, challenging the economics of physical retail. Mobile is a key driver, it is changing research and shopping habits, and in turn affecting supplier product cycles, merchandising and marketing strategies. Social media has disrupted the traditional shopping funnel, changing how trends and styles proliferate and shifting the sites of authority and influence in a £66 billion sector.
  • February 27, 2017

    Amazon’s ad business: shoppers for sale

    Amazon’s marketing services bring in a growing stream of direct, high-margin revenue, but their main role is still in supporting vendor partnerships. Amazon uses customer profile data to profit from its own media and that of others, illustrating the value of a direct customer relationship in online advertising. In the future, Amazon’s moves into video content and voice interfaces are likely to significantly expand ad inventory, but maintaining the trust of shoppers is not straightforward.

  • February 9, 2017

    Vodafone Q3 2016/17 results: Modest slowdown

    Vodafone Europe’s mobile service revenue growth worsened to -0.6% from -0.2% in the previous quarter, the first deterioration following at least nine quarters of consecutive improvement, with the UK particularly weak. The company could nonetheless grow profits handsomely if revenue growth stabilises at this level, with more clarity on the medium term prospects for this likely to come with next quarter’s results and guidance for 2017/18. Our main concern continues to be the company’s declining subscriber share, particularly in consolidating markets where its historic advantages of having high market share may be rapidly eroded.

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    February 7, 2017

    TalkTalk Group Q3 2016/17 results: Weak quarter, reassuring guida [...]

    TalkTalk had a weak quarter, as was pre-warned, with the decline in the broadband base accelerating and consumer revenue growth of -6% slightly worse than the previous quarter. Guidance was however very bullish, with the company confident that it can bounce back to return to positive net adds in the March quarter, while still hitting its profitability guidance. This looks a difficult task in a market which is still highly competitive, but if it can achieve it, the longer term aim of a stable customer base and growing revenue and profits looks much more plausible.
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    February 1, 2017

    BT Q3 2016/17 results: Strong core, let down elsewhere

    BT had a solid enough quarter, with revenue and EBITDA growth dipping due to pre-warned temporary factors, consumer continuing to outgrow business, and very solid operating trends evident, especially in high speed broadband and mobile. This has of course been entirely overshadowed by the profit warning, with prospective weaknesses in UK public sector and international corporate of far more concern than the contained, albeit surprising, accounting irregularities in Italy. BT has a large share of revenue and a much smaller share of profit from corporate/government data network/IT services, which are erratic in nature and arguably in long term decline in their current form, and without major changes they will continue to be so.

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    January 13, 2017

    Music subscription streaming 2017

    Streaming is now mainstream and we predict 113% growth in expenditure on subscriptions for 2015-18 in the top four markets (US, UK, Germany and France).

    Free vs paid-for streaming is the central question for the music ecosystem: free yields fractions of pennies, making subscription the only credible business model.

    Market leader Spotify is facing competition from tech giants Amazon, Apple and Google, with deep pockets, for whom content is a pawn in a larger game.

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    December 13, 2016

    Internet Trends – Consumer behaviours driving market trends

    As smartphone ownership nears saturation in almost all consumer groups, the base for the UK digital economy is widening: media consumption continues to move to connected devices and use of consumer services on mobile grows. Ecommerce is now responsible for 75% of retail growth, steady even during periods of decline for the overall market. Google and Facebook take up almost 90% of gross online advertising growth this year, and the ecommerce and mobile service markets show early signs of platform concentration.
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    November 30, 2016

    UK digital ad forecast 2016-2018

    The UK digital ad market has been resilient in the immediate aftermath of the Brexit vote, and set to reach £10 billion in annual value by early next year. Growth is likely to remain strong even in the face of a possible economic slowdown next year, thanks to continuing growth of ecommerce and online media consumption. We expect media budgets to come under pressure, and this could be to the advantage of digital, which often provides better attribution of short term return on investment; we could see a “flight to attributability”. Within digital, growth is concentrated on video, social in-feed and search advertising on mobile, while desktop display is in decline: 2016 will be the first full calendar year when digital desktop ad spend is down year-on-year in the UK. Of this growth, Google and Facebook account for close to 90%, thanks to their leading offerings in the fastest-growing categories.

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    November 10, 2016

    Virgin Media Q3 2016 results: Continued acceleration

    Virgin Media continued to accelerate in Q3, with subscriber numbers accelerating despite the broader market slowdown, driven by its network extension starting to have a material impact and an enhanced TV offering reversing its pay TV decline. The only weak area was mobile, with revenue and subscriber growth slowing, and convergence stalling. The company hopes that its 4G launch will reinvigorate this; we believe that consumer demand for fixed/mobile convergence remains limited. The early price rise implemented in November will likely help ARPU but harm churn during the rest of the year; for 2017 and beyond the accelerating network extension will increasingly drive volume and revenue growth.

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    September 27, 2016

    European mobile in Q2 2016: Down but resilient

    European mobile service revenue growth worsened slightly in Q2, dropping to -1.2% after three consecutive quarters at -0.8%. Southern Europe significantly outperformed the North, reversing the regional trend of recent years. Mobile service revenue growth was thus quite robust given these factors, helped by price firming in a number of markets, particularly Spain

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    September 14, 2016

    Untapped not tapped out -The over 50s -­ systemic consumption an [...]

    More than one third of the UK population is over 50 (over 23.6 million people) and this cohort is projected to keep growing. They account for substantial wealth, assets and expenditure. Over 50 consumers are more urban, educated, and tech-­‐savvy than the over 50s of previous generations. Given their outsize impact on the economy, influence on social trends and opportunity for brands, we believe the marketing industry underappreciates the diversity of over 50s, and their differentiated requirements. The key group in terms of potential in growth, wealth, expenditure and digital adoption are the 50-­‐65s: they are neither their children nor their parents.
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    September 5, 2016

    UK mobile market Q2 2016: Revenue growth slows, profitability res [...]

    UK mobile service revenue growth dipped in Q2 to -1.7%, a 1.5ppt drop from the previous quarter. About 0.2ppts of this drop was accounted for by a (temporary) jump in the MTR cut impact, but the rest was due to underlying factors. These factors were various and differed in their impact on the different operators, and they include the EC-mandated roaming cuts, the leap year effect and the continued growth of SIM-only, as well as pricing changes that appear to have been reversed since the quarter’s end. Macroeconomic weakness does not appear to have played a part so far, mainly because there has not been any consumer-led macroeconomic weakness, and although some indicators have worsened since the quarter’s end, the change is still quite slight so far.

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    August 4, 2016

    BT Q1 2016/17 results: Not shabby

    BT Group’s revenue growth was roughly unchanged in the quarter at 0.4%, with continued strong consumer growth mitigated by regulated and structural challenges in the rest of the Group.

    Both broadband and superfast broadband adoption is slowing, but BT is compensating with improving market share for the former, and the prospect of further uplifts from ultrafast for the latter.

    Regulatory uncertainties are likely to continue to weigh, with the current Openreach debate to be closely followed by the not-exactly-unimportant issue of copper and fibre pricing/regulation from April 2017.

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    July 26, 2016

    Vodafone Q1 2016/17 results: Price-led growth

    Vodafone Europe’s mobile service revenue growth continued to recover, despite regulatory and calendric headwinds, and continued customer service issues in its UK business. The improvement was driven by fairly aggressive price increases, most acutely in Spain, which drove fairly dramatic ARPU growth improvements but also subscriber growth slowdowns.

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    July 18, 2016

    Mobile Google: beyond the smartphone

    Google’s recent product updates and upcoming features aim for as many users on as many platforms and devices as possible – a return to strategic form. The company has a dual approach: using Android as a mobile trend-setter while also devising new ways for users and developers on other platforms to use Google services. The reach provided by these initiatives will help Google’s machine learning algorithms to better understand and predict user intent – the cornerstone of the company’s ad business.

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    July 5, 2016

    UK mobile market Q1 2016

    UK mobile service revenue growth marginally improved in Q1, to 0.5% from 0.3% in the previous quarter, with the market now having been stuck at a modest but positive growth level for two full years

  • May 3, 2016

    Internet trends: Mobile engagement from babies to boomers

    While internet and device penetration among younger age groups are approaching saturation, the over 55s have seen an explosion in smartphone adoption, up 83% year-on-year, expanding opportunities for monetisation. More than 50% of ecommerce transactions are now through mobile. Smartphones widen the scope for anytime anywhere mcommerce events and larger-screened phones and tablets facilitate high value transactions. Internet advertising continues to grow quickly, display faster than search and classifieds. Online advertising spend in H2 2015 grew 14% year-on-year to just over £2 billion and the rise of mobile ad spend is dramatic.
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    April 20, 2016

    Inside Facebook’s ad machine

    Facebook is extending its lead over rival Google in the fast-growing market for mobile display advertising, helping publishers solve the dilemma of mobile content discovery. Facebook’s success with advertisers is enabled by a mobile-centred data platform with unparalleled capabilities to profile users and identify them across devices and online properties. Strategic investments in online video, messaging, and virtual reality all bode well for the future of Facebook’s ad business, although regulatory uncertainty on privacy looms on the horizon.
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    April 14, 2016

    Away from home: The online challenge for PSBs

    On TV, UK public service broadcasters (PSBs) have operated within a privileged ecosystem; a guaranteed electronic programme guide (EPG) prominence placing their channels at the forefront, helping sustain their market share and spawning digital families. But technological changes within the TV set are eroding this prominence, and on devices, such structural advantages are non-existent. To confront dramatically falling mobile engagement, despite consistently excellent content, the PSBs need to collaborate and replicate their privileged linear position or they will struggle against the major SVOD players.
  • April 12, 2016

    European mobile in Q4 2015 – The challengers’ challenge

    European mobile service revenue growth was flat at -0.8%, while underlying country movements were somewhat more dramatic. The key highlights were Italy returning to positive growth driven by pricing stability, and France showing worsening growth decline for the first time in over two years impacted by challenger telco pricing cuts. An assessment of these challenger telcos highlights a somewhat precarious position, as continued price aggression yields diminishing incremental gains, and they all remain some way from gaining the scale to achieve profitability. The only incentive for challengers to remain aggressive is as an encouragement for their competitors to buy them; increasing regulatory hurdles to consolidation would remove even this incentive, leaving price increases as their only rational route to profitability.
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    March 31, 2016

    UK mobile market Q4 2015: Growth softly softens

    UK mobile service revenue growth dipped down in Q4, but at least remained still just positive at 0.3%. The dip was driven by contract ARPU weakness at the largest three operators, mitigated by strong ARPU growth at the smallest operator H3G. Looking forward, the sources of weakness (growth of SIM-only and tariff policy adjustments) look more temporary than the sources of growth (data volume growth filling up capacity). SIM-only is likely to hit a natural ceiling, whereas data volume growth has no ceiling in sight and the scope for network capacity expansion is limited. With CK Hutchison currently negotiating with the European Commission in regards to the fate of the H3G and O2 merger, there is a high level of uncertainty on the future of the structure of the UK mobile market. Merging the two networks would generate extra capacity and capability, likely increasing competitive intensity, but the precise form this would take is unclear, as is the future of the brands and the identity of the capacity MVNO recipient(s).
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    March 30, 2016

    Ofcom’s Digital Communications Review: Blessed are the investo [...]

    Ofcom is encouraging competitive investment in local access networks using BT’s ducts and poles; in our view this is very unlikely to happen on a large scale, due to both the lack of spare capacity in existing plant and the generally poor prospective economics of a third local access network in the UK. Ofcom’s favoured model for Openreach is an enhanced version of the current structural separation model, and this is most likely to be reached via a negotiated settlement with BT; this and a number of other proposed measures, if implemented, will increase Openreach’s costs, and these costs will be re-charged to both BT’s retail division and its DSL competitors. Ofcom remains keen to retain four mobile network operators, in spite of clear evidence that at most three are viable at current retail price levels, and it is keen to implement a number of interventionist consumer protection measures that suggest it is keen on competition in theory, but not so much in practice.
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    March 23, 2016

    Apple’s iPhone bargain

    More attractively priced than previous entry level iPhones, the new SE extends Apple’s smartphone lineup down towards the mid-price segment to better compete with Android over price-sensitive users. At a time of investor concern over slowing down iPhone unit sales, the SE marks the first shift in Apple’s strategic calculus for the iPhone from gross margins to unit volumes. SE supports the iOS ecosystem in a crucial period of growth for mobile payment services, making the entire iPhone roster Apple Pay compatible.