A roadblock to Apple’s integrated business model

A good way to educate a kid (or a dog?) is behaviourism: when the kid behaves the way you want you give him a reward.

It’s exactly what seems to have happened recently with Apple’s project to embed programmable SIM cards in its next generation of devices. This project was for Europe which is always seen as a complex market from the other side of the atlantic ocean: many operators and different languages.

The idea was to simplify and by the way to by pass operators and make more moneyin the process. In other word, to climb up one step in the value chain and gobble up some (most?) margin from the operators.

Apple has apparently dropped the project under operators’ pressure (Orange, Vodafone, Telefonica) as they are the main sellers of the iPhone. And here comes the reward: iPad will soon be subsidized in the main EU5 markets! That’s a nice treat that will push higher tablet sales.

Orange UK & iPad teaser

Orange UK & iPad teaser


Operators’ walled garden temptation

Operators are tempted to use with Open OS the same old tactics they were using with feature OS: to put the device software in a nice walled garden where the end user is encouraged to eat the operator’s services only. This is what happened with the last update of HTC Desire / Vodafone variant. End users were expecting to get the latest version of Android (2.2 dubbed Froyo) but got mainly applications, bookmarks from Vodafone they couldn’t uninstall… > Full story here

Vodafone back paddled as they got loads of complains.

This is just a new example of the operator walled garden temptation. Operators think that they own end user device because they have subsidized it. But what is a subisidy? A financial service, in which you pay monthly a device instead of paying it one off? or a blank contract where you allow the operator to take control of your hardware and decide which software you are to use ?

Maybe this point should be clarified by regulators. Apparently, end users aren’t ready to comply with their operator diktat even though they have signed a 24 month contract.

Vodafone UK using its customers as QoS Probes

Vodafone is really pushing this year its coverage  as its core value proposition. See previous post.

Even if I don’t like the way they communicate it, Vodafone UK promise is the best coverage. They aren’t promising cheap calls, nice devices, etc… but a good coverage where ever you are in the UK and what ever is your specific case. Femtocell is just a weapon within their arsenal.

They even have launched a website for their customer to report the network QoS.


Vodafone UK Signal

Vodafone UK Signal

Vodafone customers provide coverage updates – in real-time thanks to Twitter. Customers are requested to enter the hashtag #vodafonesignal and include the following information:

  • Location – postcode or address
  • Signal strength – number of bars
  • Data connection – GPRS, EDGE, 3G
  • Whether in or outdoors
  • The make and model of phone

The results are then displayed on a mashed-up Google map.

Again I find this approach awkward as the coverage is not an on-top service. If the coverage is good it is normal, no reason to report then, if it isn’t, customers are outraged. The risk with this kind of approach is to get negative feed backs only.

I’m not sure it will convince any customer from O2 or Everything-Everywhere (T-Mobile+Orange) to defect their current operator.

Vodafone UK last posters: sending the wrong message

I love advertisement and especially the posters you cross in the public transports.

I really enjoyed the current campaign of Vodafone UK :

Vodafone Ad

Vodafone : We make sure your calls get through

and this one

Vodafone: Sure signal helps you get a great signal at home

So did you get the message? I DIDN’T!

Vodafone guarantees it works (ad #1) but Vodafone has a service that helps make it work at home (ad #2) (because it doesn’t). So what do you assume? You assume Vodafone service just DOESN’T WORK or at least they cannot guarantee it does!

The only sure thing is they should change quickly their agency and the communication team that drives them.

Femtocells vs WiFi

Femtocells enable to expand the coverage in-door at the very place consumers use their device: their home. It enables to offload the radio access network. I mentioned in a previous post the Sure Signal service from Vodafone UK. I was not convinced by the benefits of this offer. According to The Register it isn’t an easy task to integrate these Femtocells into the global 3G network as many Vodafone UK customers are complaining.

> Article from The Register

Users who have paid £50 to buy the box aren’t satisfied by the service that should connect the unconnected.

In some countries it will be hard to sell the Femtocell concept. In France some associations have compelled operators to remove their stations from school roofs. Parents fears that their kids get high levels of radiation. I don’t think the “get a BTS in your living room” will be very appealing for these people.

Wifi is still a viable and inexpensive solutions especially for Fixed-Mobile players. Wifi has been so largely adopted that it doesn’t make people raise an eyebrow about radiation.

Orange has been pursuing this WiFi route with Unik for fixed mobile converge since 2005. It is still limited to voice services, but it seems a promising solution for data off-load too. Let’s keep an eye on it.

Unik Ad

Orange France Unik Ad