Quarterly revenue at China Mobile fell year-over-year for the first time since at least 2009 as China's largest telecom provider continued to stumble in the face of rising competition from popular Internet-based messaging apps.
China Mobile reported on Monday operating revenue of 481.24 billion yuan ($78.59 billion) for the first nine months of the year. The cumulative figure implied revenue of 156.6 billion yuan during the June-September quarter - or down 2 percent from a year prior - marking the first time in years that quarterly revenue has declined, according to a Reuters calculation.
The reversal, coming after years of sizzling growth as China's middle class snapped up cell phones, highlights the mounting pressure on China Mobile.
In a statement issued on Monday, the carrier acknowledged that the effects of competition from smartphone apps, which deliver messages and voice memos over the mobile Internet, have become "more evident" as voice calls and text messages - two traditional money-makers - have fallen sharply. Usage of messaging apps such as Tencent Holdings' Weixin, for instance, have boomed.