Eurobites: Western Europe Falls Out of Love With Smartphones

Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: TIM does deal with Mediaset; Iskratel helps with Tier 1 network upgrade; Apple abandons Irish data center project; Finnish gamers try out 5G.

  • Smartphone shipments in western Europe fell 13.9% year-on-year in the first quarter, according to a new report from Canalys.com Ltd. In terms of individual countries, the UK saw the biggest decline, with shipments falling 29.6%, though France was not far behind on 23.2%. It's a different picture in central and eastern Europe, however, where smartphone shipments are still on the up -- by 12.3% year-on-year. Brands-wise, Samsung still leads the way, with a 33.1% share of the European market, but its shipments fell 15.4% year-on-year. Chinese budget brand Xiaomi has come from virtually nowhere to take 5.3% of the European market, shipping 2.4 million units in the first quarter.

  • Telecom Italia (TIM) has struck a deal with broadcaster Mediaset S.p.A. that will grant subscribers to the TIMvision TV service access to all of Mediaset's free-to-air channels, as well as a catch-up facility covering the last seven days of Mediaset content. The deal comes at an interesting time for TIM: Vivendi , which recently transferred its 19.19% stake in Mediaset into a trust to allay the foreign-ownership concerns of the Italian communications regulator, this week lost control of the TIM board to US hedge fund Elliott. (See Telecom Italia Names Genish CEO After Boardroom Battle.)

  • Iskratel d.o.o. , the Slovenia-based access network systems specialist, has revealed that its Innbox G108 home gateway has been chosen for a "next-generation" PON trial with an unnamed EMEA Tier 1 operator involved in the CORD (Central Office Re-architected as a Datacenter) project. The deployment forms part of a network upgrade intended to meet an expected surge in consumer demand for gigabit broadband.

  • Citing delays in the planning process, Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) has abandoned plans to build a new data center on a greenfield site in Athenry, Ireland. As RTE reports, the project has been beset by planning delays since it was announced more than three years ago. In December, objectors to the project were granted a request to have their appeal against planning permission for the project heard in the Supreme Court, which seems to have been the final straw for the iPhone maker.

    The relationship between Ireland and Apple has soured somewhat in recent times, following the European Commission's decision that the Irish government was owed $14.5 billion in back taxes by Apple, as a result of what were deemed unfairly favorable tax arrangements applied to the company. (See Eurobites: Don't Pick On Apple, Says Irish Telecom Tycoon.)

  • Net Insight AB (Stockholm: NETI-B), the Swedish media delivery technology specialist, has appointed Henrik Sund as interim CEO until someone is found to take on the role permanently. As announced in March, Fredrik Tumegård, the present incumbent, is leaving the company after five years in the role to "pursue new opportunities."

  • Still in Scandinavia, Telia Company has used a shopping mall in Helsinki for a trial which allowed gamers at an "e-sports" event to try out a live 5G network. The trial used a Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK) test basestation operating on the 28GHz frequency. Telia sees e-sports as a potential growth business area.

    — Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading

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