September’s been a busy month for the European mobile industry, with Verizon’s buy out of the remaining shares at Vodafone and Microsoft’s $7.2bn acquisition of Nokia. While Microsoft’s motivations for buying out the ailing handset manufacturer make sense, the news does appear to draw a line underneath the European mobile industry.
Having been in the B2B (and B2B) tech PR industry for longer than I care to admit, it wasn’t that long ago that Europe was the biggest player in the mobile market. I remember when Mobile World Congress was only European, and when the likes of Ericsson, Mannesman, Siemens and Alcatel were strong and innovative European brands. And it was only a few years ago that Nokia had a 40% share in the device market.
Franco Bernabe, chairman of the GSMA has come out strongly against the Microsoft/Nokia deal arguing that Europe needs to once more regain its leadership position in the market. But just how do we do that? More competition in the mobile OS market would be great – with just three key players – Android, Windows and iOS – the consumer lacks choice. But who has the marketing might to go up against the likes of Google and Apple. Of course, we’re forgetting Blackberry here; once the preserve of the enterprise, its OS and handsets have fallen out of favour with the business customer.
So, talking of handsets, now Nokia has gone, what’s left – iPhone, HTC, Samsung, Sony… not a vast choice for the consumer and not a European handset manufacturer among them.