The Vodafone Group is today hosting an analyst and investors day at their new offices in Newbury. Arun Sarin, Chief Executive of the Vodafone Group, is fronting the day and opened the session by explaining that Vodafone are living their message. The new office building is a wireless office that enabled total flexibility of working and, except for a small number of emergency fixed phone lines, every other phone line is a mobile phone.
Speaking about 3G, he reconfirmed that Vodafone is committed to releasing it to the public by Christmas this year. The details of how, what and when wouldn’t be discussed today, but would be released in November (which we have already covered). The only clues he gave were that it would be a “sensibly rollout over time” and “not a big bang”.
While commenting on the selection of ten 3G handsets that they announced last week, Arun reiterated that it was “very important to control the terminal” (handset) and underlined this importance of this, as in a poll, 37% of UK mobile consumers have no brand preference. They are working with a larger number of handset providers. With some of these, Vodafone are actually specifying features and the design of the handset. We were them assured that they will continue “pressing down harder on suppliers” to ensure better margins.
Bill Morrow, CEO Vodafone UK, took to the stage next and in a non-stop flow of facts that he didn’t appear to take a single breath for, we learnt among other things that 75% of UK customer pay for Vodafone Live!, the companies content play, with them spending an additional £4.70/month on the service above their basic subscriptions.
Commenting on their web-based content distribution, we learnt that three weeks ago, they launched a ringtone bundle on their site, giving 3 tones a month for £5 per month. With no marketing, the site has already attracted 30,000 subscriptions.
Vodafone were keen to get over that they are “getting ready to change gear” and this brought together under One Vodafone, or VodafOne. They claimed that they would be gaining a £2.5Bn efficiencies by uniting their service platform and IT platforms across all of their subsidiary companies worldwide for all providers. They are reducing their number of data centre from 33 to 27 and are moving to an all IP backbone.
During the Q&A, we felt the most interesting questions was concerning their attitude to UK spectrum trading, which Ofcom wants to start by 2007. Sadly, the answers that came back were completely unenlightening, giving the excuse that it was “too early to tell”, but that they had a very good relationship with the government bodies.