Vodafone Simply Offers Back To Basics Mobile Phones

Vodafone Simply Offers Back To Basics Mobile PhonesPoor old granny. All she wants to do is ring up a cab to take her home from the bingo, but her hi-tech, Bluetooth enabled, all-vibrating, MP3-playing, camera-toting, WAP-enabled phone is trying to get her to download the latest Blink 182 ringtone and asking for her GSM details.

With the simpler needs of the technologically challenged and technophobic in mind, Vodafone is launching two feature-stripped handsets in a move to entice customers who want just basic voice and text services with no razzamatazz.

The ‘Vodafone Simply’ service, a result of customer research and feedback, will offer two easy-to-use phones developed by French telecoms bigwigs Sagem.

The phones will sport large screens with legible text and symbols, as well as three buttons giving access to the most commonly used services: the main screen, contacts and messages.

“We have many customers who want the latest mobile phone with all the advanced services from full track music downloads to video calling and mobile TV,” said Chief Marketing Officer Peter Bamford.

“We also have customers who just want to make and receive calls and text messages on their mobile phones. Vodafone Simply is as easy to use mobile service…to help them stay in touch with friends and family.”

With manufacturers creating ever more complex, feature-laden multimedia smartphones glistening with widgets, a market has opened up for customers who just want a blooming phone.

Vodafone Simply Offers Back To Basics Mobile PhonesWith the more advanced phone tariffs making the small print of an insurance company look like the Beano, some telecoms companies have been trying to woo customers wanting just basic services with simpler pricing.

With easyMobile, Fresh and Virgin Mobile already offering flat-rate phone and text deals, it’s a bit surprising to see Vodafone not following suit with their “Simply” tariff.

Their scheme offers a pre-paid Vodafone Simply handset for £80 (~US$146 ~€116) (free with a monthly price plan) with a “Stop the Clock” price plan only charging customers the first three minutes of calls (up to an hour long) made in the evenings and weekends.

Without a price plan, pre-paid calls will sting customers at a rate of 35p per minute during the day to any network and 5p per minute in the evenings. Text messages cost 12p each.

Vodafone is targeting the new phones at customers aged from the mid-thirties upwards, believing the market opportunity to be “quite large”.

The service will be available in Portugal, Spain and the UK from 24 May, with Vodafone Germany, Vodafone Greece, Vodafone New Zealand, Vodafone Sweden and Swisscom Mobile following in June and Mobilkom Austria in July.


Vodafone Appeases Content Suppliers with Marketing

Vodafone Appeases Content Suppliers with MarketingThere has been much rumblings of discontent from content suppliers to the mobile phone industry, and, as the globally dominant brand, Vodafone have been taking a lot of the flack.

With sales soaring through the roof, you’d think all would be cream cakes and Earl Grey tea in Mobile Land, but trouble’s been a-brewing concerning the split of income from subscribers for the content.

In a world where content providers are used to calling the shots about product pricing – and the mobile companies are used to a similar position of dominance – an uneasy truce has been maintained, with the best spilt available being 50/50.

Clearly dissatisfied with their lot, content providers have been making long whining noises in the direction of Vodafone. They want more money but – not surprisingly – Vodafone aren’t to keen to dish it out.

Vodafone Appeases Content Suppliers with MarketingFeeling the pressure, Vodafone have tried to placate their grumbling partners in the short term by dishing out a sizzling barbeque of buzzwords, liberally doused with PR doublespeak.

We’re not sure if their partners are going to have much of an appetite for what’s on offer – if they can make sense of it – but it seems that Vodafone are offering to spend more on marketing mobile games (without altering their percentage split of the income.)

The extra promotion will clearly be good news for content providers, but the more cynical amongst us will be quick to point out that Vodafone will clearly benefit from the extra publicity too.

Vodafone Appeases Content Suppliers with MarketingIt looks like Tim Harrison, Head of Games at Vodafone Group Services, had been smoking pure Moroccan Buzzword when he came out with this piece of baffling industry-speak: “Having pre-agreed, pan-regional marketing and distribution capacity will allow us to run multi-territory co-marketing more easily, improve efficiencies for our partners and benefit the industry as a whole.”

Vodafone will be rolling out their grandly titled ‘Marketing and Distribution Plan’ by the end of April, with the remaining Vodafone Operating Companies and partner markets enjoying “maximised marketing and distribution efficiencies” by the end of Q3 2005.

Vodafone press release

Vodafone Access Control: Mobile Porn Block Offered To Dutch

Vodafone Customers First To Be Able To Ban Mobile Adult ContentAs of early May, Dutch Vodafone customers will be able to say ‘nr!’ to saucy adult content offered via Vodafone live! from their mobile phone.

A new ‘Vodafone Access Control’ service created in partnership with De Kijkwijzer allows sleaze-allergic customers to customise their mobile needs by allowing them to block adult content.

But who the chuffin’ Nora is De Kijkwijzer, do we hear you ask?

A quick rattle of the keys at babelfish tells us that De Kijkwijzer means “Look indicator” and their Web site reveals that it is a “classification system to advise and warn parents and educators about the possibly harmful influences that children may experience from a programme or film.”

This classification is carried out by suppliers of audiovisual productions for the Dutch market, including both public service broadcasters and commercial broadcasting organisations.

Vodafone Customers First To Be Able To Ban Mobile Adult ContentWith hand-rubbing porn-shifters keenly eying up a growing – and lucrative – mobile multimedia market, it makes sense for telcos to be able to reassure parents that young Timmy’s new handset isn’t going to become a mobile gateway into the portals of smut.

With this in mind, Vodafone will only be offering sexually explicit content to its ‘postpaid’ customers, a service only provided for over 16s.

Using ‘Vodafone Access Control’, customers wanting to avoid titillation will have the ability to block access to the saucy stuff by simply calling Vodafone Customer Services.

The service will only be offered in Holland, but we expect other telcos to follow suit.

De Kijkwijzer

Vodafone At Home Talk and Web Announced – CeBIT 05

Vodafone-At-Home-Talk-and-Web-front(Hannover, Germany) Since November, Vodafone has been offering Vodafone At Home Talk in Germany. When using the service, calls that are made from the subscriber’s home cell are charged at a low cost, with one of the bundles available being 1,000 mins for €20 month.

Today at CeBIT Vodafone announced adding to this to include Vodafone At Home Web. By plugging in a Vodafone Connect Card into their computer, subscribers can connect over 3G (UMTS) at 384kbs for a fixed €34 month (£23/US$45>. In return you get up to 60 hours/ 5Gb of access.

In Q2 2005 they will be expanding this to Vodafone At Home Talk and Web. The subscriber will plug all of their current equipment (landline handset, DECT phone, computer, fax, etc) into the box (price being floated, €500/£348/US$671). This box will connect via GSM and UMTS (3G) to the Vodafone network to enable voice and data comms.

Vodafone-At-Home-Talk-and-Web-frontIn the UK BT Bluephone is designed to provide a similar service for phone calls.

We’re seeing this for the personal and professional nomad. The tech savy who land in an area for a period of time, then move on – eg consultants, or criminals on the run (please don’t confuse the two). It will also be of use in areas where broadband service don’t extend out (eg rural areas), but 3G networks coverage is possible – how ever limited this may be.

This could also be seen as a defensive move. Voice over WiFi is coming to the masses, from big, well known companies (witness AOL and Wannado) and deals like Skype did with Broadreach for free WiFi hotspot usage are going to start to hit the mobile companies hard.

Vodafone-Germany-BossesDuring the press conference I asked what they were doing to counter the threat of Voice over WiFi, in particular free service like Skype. Friedrich P Joussen (COO) said they were very aware of the threat and felt it was down to the speed that services could be rolled out to the public.

He referred to a lot of VoIP services (Vonage, etc) charging fixed-rate/catch-all monthly prices, to account for when call traffic leaves the IP network to interconnect with PSTN and charges are levied against them by the PSTN operators. Vodafone’s first move against this is by offering a 1,000 minute service for €20/month detailed above.

This doesn’t, of course, begin to address the competition that a zero-cost/month service like Skype offers.

Vodafone Germany

Vodafone 3G Services Go Live!

Following on from Monday’s story, Vodafone’s betting heavily on 3G this Christmas, read on for further details of Vodafone’s new offering.

Timed to attract consumers in the lucrative pre-Christmas market, Vodafone’s third-generation (3G) service offers quicker music, video and e-mail downloads compared to GPRS. With 3G you can access all of Vodafone’s current services, as well as new video calling, video messaging and video clips specifically for the 3G network. Vodafone is supporting the new service with an enhanced Web portal designed to offer easier access to the 3G services.

The mobile operator is aiming at the youth market, which has been influential in the growth of services such as text messaging. It hopes the key attraction will be music downloads, as mobile operators look to compete with Internet music download services such as Napster and Apple’s iTunes.

The roll-out will be concentrated in densely populated urban areas, covering about 30 per cent of the population, according to Vodafone. Although the new 3G technology promises to provide data transfers at near-broadband speeds, it has taken ages for firms to launch their 3G services due to technical glitches. Although streaming audio and video will the prime marketing driver, it’s likely that data on the move, not video calls, will drive the market.

Vodafone’s ‘enhanced’ 3G content includes a downloadable music catalogue, a made-for-mobile drama inspired by the TV series 24, together with exclusive videos, pictures, animated greetings and wallpaper including the launch of Movie of the Month, starting with Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason. Sports fans are promised access to UEFA Champions League and Barclays Premiership video clips, together with exclusive Manchester United and Ferrari mobile video content.

“Vodafone live! with 3G will dramatically change the way our customers experience their Vodafone services and we are confident that Vodafone live! with 3G will be a success”, said Arun Sarin, chief executive at Vodafone. “Customers want communication, organisation, entertainment and information on the move and they will increasingly turn to one device to deliver these needs: their mobile phone. Vodafone live! with 3G will become increasingly mass market next year and we expect over 10 million customers to be using Vodafone live! with 3G by March 2006 in our subsidiaries.”

As reported in September, Vodafone has ordered 10 varieties of 3G handset from Sharp, Sony Ericsson, Motorola and Samsung, with built-in features including MP3 music players and 2-Megapixel camera phones. They will be subsidised as aggressively as its existing 2G handset range, so high-end users who agree to a contract will be entitled to a free phone. The launch is also international, extending to Austria, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the UK.


Vodafone’s betting heavily on 3G this Christmas

Vodafone live! with 3G enhances Vodafone live! by providing customers with faster access to content and the ability to see more and share more with the use of video. The company’s 3G services will further add video calling, video messaging, a richer music experience, new games, as well as video clips.

A return on investment is critical for Vodafone, who has spent some £8 billion on top of the £14 billion it had to fork out for 3G licenses (Vodafone and its four UK rivals paid around £22.5 billion for the 3G licences). Of this investment, The Observer newspaper reckons that £8 billion has been spent on network infrastructure, with a little more going on R&D, and some £100 million earmarked for advertising. David Beckham will feature prominently as the mobile giant launches a pre-Christmas advertising blitz, promoting video downloads and other bandwidth-hungry services made possible by advanced colour-screen handsets and the higher connection speeds of 3G networks.

The new high-speed service uses a completely different network to the standard Vodafone live! service. The company has built it so that whenever you are outside a 3G service area, you will continue to access all the services, but the speed to access will be reduced. Video calling or streaming content will not be possible and the service will stop if moving off the 3G network. You should know when you’re in a 3G service area because a small 3G symbol will appear on the screen of your handset.

As well as content, 3G service providers will have to distinguish themselves with coverage. For instance, Vodafone claims about 60 per cent population coverage, but much of that will be in London and a few other metropolitan areas. Orange, which also plans to launch its 3G offering before Christmas, said its initial network deployment would be more extensive. Alexis Dormandy, Orange’s chief marketing officer, told The Sunday Times:: “We have a much larger, broader network because it’s supposed to be a mobile network rather than a ‘stay-in-one-place’ network.”

With such a big financial commitment to 3G, it’s vital that Vodafone has to get its 3G marketing right. Thankfully, it will be launching its service with no fewer than 10 mobile handsets (as we’ve covered), a problem Hutchison encountered when it launched its ‘3’ service a year or so ago.


Vodafone announce 10 3G handsets

Nintendo DSVodafone is launching their 3G voice services in Europe and Japan with a big splash by announcing 10 handsets at the outset.

The range of handsets, which Vodafone is excited to tell us contains some models and designs that are exclusive to them, contains Europe’s first 2 mega pixel camera phone, CD quality music and stereo speakers. The Sharp 802, 902 and the NEC 802N are exclusive to Vodafone and a further three will be exclusive at launch. The launch features the handset that we are particularly excited about, the Motorola E1000, that includes has all of the desirable features including A-GPS for location based services.

Vodafone Live!, their content play, is also heavily featured as this is the great hope in trying to gain back some of the billions they have spend to 3G licenses around the world.

Following our calls to Vodafone, they confirmed that no further details on the handsets or services would be released before November.