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UK mobile market shows signs of revival

25 августа 2010

The UK’s mobile handset market has bounced back after nearly two years in the doldrums, according to figures from GfK.

Using data collected at the point of sale, GfK found that second-quarter sales were up 5.15 per cent to 7.5m handsets, compared with the same period in 2009, thanks to a rebound in pay-as-you-go phones and continuing demand for smartphones.

June turned in a particularly strong performance, up 6.8 per cent on the prior year, capping the first time that the market saw three consecutive months of growth since the third quarter of 2008.

“The slowdown in pre-pay has in the past overshadowed the success of contract [sales],” said Ben Mansell, analyst at GfK. “However, a series of successful promotional activities across the industry has pushed the pre-pay market back into growth, taking the total market with it ... The recession may be lifting from the industry.”

But the trend towards longer-term contracts, which lower the upfront costs of expensive devices such as the iPhone, could be storing up trouble for later in the year, GfK warned.

As operators such as Vodafone and O2 lock more customers into two-year contracts, the market for new devices could face longer lulls between periods of renewals.

Research released last week by Ofcom, the media regulator, found that more than 80 per cent of all new pay-monthly contracts lasted for 24 months. That marks a shift from 18 months, which overtook annual tie-ins in 2006.

Pay-monthly Sim-only deals – which allow consumers to keep their existing phones and lower their call costs – are also becoming more popular.

Such contracts now account for one in five new pay-monthly connections, according to Ofcom.

That is helping to boost the proportion of contract sales, in a market traditionally dominated by pre-pay mobiles.

Contracts made up 41 per cent of mobile connections at the end of 2009, compared with 34 per cent in 2005.

Ofcom suggested that consumers may not see significant benefits from a longer-term relationship with an operator.

Источник: Financial Times

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