Predictions that mobile operators would struggle to make a fist of retailing appear to have been born out by a significant tumble in sales.
Figures from GfK, published by Mobile in Data and Trends, show operators' market share has been falling steadily over 12 months and dipped to below 20% for the first time in November 2007.
Multiple retailers, such as Carphone and Phones 4u, came under intense scrutiny as Vodafone, O2 and 3 scaled down their sales through their stores in order to cut commission payments to third party retailers.
But operators' plans for driving sales direct appear to be meeting with mixed success. Sales units have fallen in real terms year on year, appearing to lend weight to claims by independent retailers that they would struggle to maintain customers' interest on a steady basis.
Non specialist retailers, on the other hand, have thrived in a market driven by prepay sales.