Monday, 18 May 2009

I'm out of the country for 3 days and Vodafone gets very busy indeed

I was out of the country for most of the week and during that time Vodafone seems to have pretty much revamped everything they do. Some really exciting things in there:
  • Removal of roaming charges. Link here. From 1st June until 31st August contract and prepay users will pay no roaming fees to make calls from 35 countries (i.e. those where VF is present). Yes, that's "no roaming fees". New cheap international call charges will also apply. A trial run in preparation for EU legislation? Or a more fundamental shift in strategy to exploit scale?
  • New application development framework. Link here. A new developer-friendly central point of contact for developing applications for the whole Vodafone group and more access to APIs, such as location-based elements. Lower rev share too. Clearly a strike back against the recent flurry of apps stores and one that plays to Vodafone's advantages of scale, access to critical user data, such as location and availability of secure billing channel. I was tempted to refer to this as a new apps store, as many other commentator has, except that VF has had an app store since 2002. It's called Vodafone Live!
  • Mobile advertising rolled out to 18 countries. Link here. They'll keep on rolling out mobile advertising, as it represents a significant revenue opportunity, although to be honest, probably not for 3-4 years.
  • New enterprise mobile broadband tariffs. Link here. Much less earth shattering, but good that they're giving attention to an oft-neglected and potentially very profitable segment. Their counterparts seem to think that simply repackaging consumer tariffs for enterprise is enough. It's not. It's £18 for 5GB, but the removal of OOB charges makes for a more predictable tariff.

Over the course of the last 12 months I've been talking to MNOs a lot about mobile data opportunities. Put very simply the opportunity is in 3 parts: access, advertising and applications. With these announcements Vodafone has acted aggressively on all of these. Furthermore it seems that Vodafone is finally taking advantage of its scale, particularly with the international roaming offer. Thumbs up.

Of course, if I was being cynical I'd suspect that tomorrow's results won't be too good and this is an effort to distract attention from that. We'll see tomorrow!

I'll be writing at more length on these developments as part of the Analysys Mason research programmes.


  1. I find it disappointing that the removal of roaming charges appears not to apply to mobile broadband. For my occasional trips abroad that would be more useful.

  2. Good point. Perhaps the new roaming BU will look at this too. With revenue under pressure they need to look at ways to leverage scale. If VF had int roaming for no extra cost I'd switch MBB provider instantly.