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2014: Year in Review – Q1

Mobile News
December 15, 2014

The last 12 months have seen some tectonic shifts not least with the disappearance of Phones 4u and Nokia (in handsets) from the mobile landscape and the formation of the new retail superpower we now know as Dixons Carphone.  If you were on a long holiday, this is how 2014 panned out

2014 kicked off with news that former Yes Telecom CEO Keith Curran was readying the launch of a new O2 B2B airtime proposition to the market,

Speculation around BlackBerry gathered pace as co-founder Mike Lazaridis cut his stake from 5.7 per cent at the end of 2012 to 4.99 per cent, netting $26 million. It cut the price of its Z10 smartphone to £150 SIM-free just a year after launching at £480. Better news for BlackBerry after it landed an 80,000 contract win with the US defence department.

EE announced 4G customer numbers doubled in just four months to two million and set out plans to add 50 new retail stores while closing 76.  All operators confirm plans to provide full 2G, 3G and 4G connectivity beneath the English Channel on the Eurotunnel for this year.

CES kicked off in Las Vegas with a series of high-end device launches.These included the Sony Xperia Z1 Compact, whilst Samsung unveiled four new tablets – the Galaxy NotePRO and Tablet PRO 12.2, 10.1 and 8.4.  There were woes for Samsung however, announcing an 18 per cent drop in profits (to £4.7 billion) for Q4– its first quarterly fall in two years.

Sony CEO Kazuo Hirai sets the manufacturer an ambitious target of doubling smartphone sales to 80 million units globally during fiscal 2016.

Vodafone reinstates Carphone Warehouse Business for OneNet, eight years after being axed. Talks with Exertis and HTC over a distribution deal break down.

The mobile industry mourned the death of former GSMA CEO Rob Conway who passed away aged 62 following a battle with  cancer.  Conway had held the position for 12 years before stepping down in 2011.

Windows Phone overtook BlackBerry as the third-most popular smartphone OS (behind Andoird and iOS) after its global share increased from 2.3 to 3.6 per cent with sales more than doubling from 3.9m unit in Q3 2012 to 8.9 million year on year.

It was a busy month for Ofcom after passing proposals to provide superfast broadband to  passengers travelling on boats, planes and trains in the UK before ruling consumers and small businesses hit by mid-contract price rises can now switch mobile provider without penalty. In the same period, O2 increased contract prices by 2.7 per cent.  O2 CoE and business partner head Peter McLeod quits.

Brightstar 20:20 marketing and purchasing director Andrew Peat leaves after nine years.

Phones 4u pulls BlackBerry 10 handsets from its stores after an alleged fall-out between the pair at the end of 2013. Apple sells 51 million iPhones in Q4 2013 whilst top two rival Samsung partners  with Carphone Warehouse to open 60 standalone stores across Europe, 20 of which will be in the UK.

Google announces plans to sell Motorola to Lenovo for £1.7 billion, just two years after buying it for £6 billion.

Vodafone finally meets Ofcom’s 3G coverage obligations of 90 per cent 3G coverage of UK homes. O2, Three and EE met the grade in June 2013.

O2 quits Phones 4u following a review of its indirect channel. Phones 4u hits back claiming O2 made up just eight per cent of its total contract connections in 2013. EE also begins a review of its indirect consumer partnerships in a bid to have “fewer but deeper and longer-term relationships”.

Satya Nadell replaces Steve Ballmer as Microsoft CEO.

Brightstar finally completed the acquisition of 20:20 Mobile, rebranding as Brightstar 20:20 whilst recycling giant Redeem adds £15 million to annual revenues after buying rival Envirofone.

Tech Data concludes its investigation into accounting improprieties which wiped out £16 million in profits over almost five years. Peter Hubbard named as its new UK and Ireland MD replacing Stephen Nolan, who returns to his former European role.

EE CEO Olaf Swantee accuses Three of devaluing 4G by offering the service for free. Dyson retaliates by questioning whether Swantee is “in touch with the UK public”.

Vodafone passes half-a-million 4G customer milestone, six months after launching the service.

Apple plans to update App Store security after it’s revealed more than £20m of unauthorised purchases were made  by children.

HTC aims to form closer ties with UK mobile operators and retailers as part of an aggressive growth strategy for the year.

News breaks of a possible £3.5 billion merger between Carphone Warehouse and Dixon’s Retail.

EE agrees a six-year partnership with the FA to make Wembley Stadium the most connected stadium in the world.  O2 adds almost one million contract customers in 2013. Three reports operating profit doubled to £207 million in the 12 months.

A record 85,000 people attend the 2014 Mobile World Congress in Barcelona which sees a number of major announcements,  most notably the Samsung’s Galaxy S5, the latest incarnation to a range which has more than 200 million sales since 2010.

Nokia launched its first Android device, the Nokia X.  Sony and HTC added the Z2 and Desire 610. Huawei unveiled five new models, including the Ascend G6, MediaPad X1 tablet and its debut wearable device the TalkBand B1.

Avenir Telecom co-founder Jean-Daniel Brunier confirmed the  company was looking to sell its 50,000 connection UK B2B airtime business.

EE CEO Olaf Swantee credits EE’s 62 per cent jump in 4G subscriber numbers to rivals Vodafone, O2 and Three offering the service and increasing awareness.

EE was also involved in a spat with Vodafone after suggestions a national network performance test by RootMetrics, which found EE to be the top network, was rigged. In a busy month for EE it also confirmed a B2B indirect partner review would follow its consumer review which was currently underway.

Three became the first UK operator to offer free calls to 0800 numbers for its contract customers. It followed an Ofcom ruling in December that operators must cut the costs of calling free numbers by June 25 2015.

Vodafone agreed a £6 billion deal to purchase Spanish cable operator Ono as part of its drive to become a leading unified communications supplier in Europe.

O2 said it was in discussions with the UK government over a £7 billion deal to provide a voice and data network for the emergency services when the current contract expires in 2016.

Vodafone MVNO Ovivo Mobile collapsed overnight after a dispute between Ovivo and its MVNA Cognatel over cash and the software used to run the service.

Accessories distributor Kondor confirmed it was close to a management buyout led by MD Robert Haycock.

Motorola and LG joined the wearables craze, becoming the first manufacturers after Samsung and Sony to launch smartwatches.

Both the Moto 360 and LG G Watch would run on Google’s wearable OS, Android Wear.

Troubled HTC, which appointed Brightstar 20:20 as a UK distributor during the month, continued to struggle with its like-for-like revenues plummeting in the first two months of the year by almost £200 million to £333.9 million.

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