Vodafone UK begins shipping iPhone – 50,000 pre-orders dispatched

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guy-lawrence[UK] In case you weren’t already convinced by the level of pent up demand for an alternative to O2’s iPhone monopoly in the UK, more evidence comes from Vodafone today. The mobile operator has begun selling the iPhone 3G and 3GS, including shipping 50,000 units to customers who have pre-ordered.

That’s a pretty healthy number for Day One but it doesn’t look quite so impressive when compared to the number of pre-orders – 65,000 – that Orange is said to have clocked up in its first few days after announcing it would offer the device. It’s likely that Vodafone, initially at least, has been impacted by Orange breaking O2’s monopoly first and, perhaps crucially, in time for the holiday season. Especially since there is little to distinguish all three offerings price-wise. Apple still commands an unprecedented amount of control over the iPhone brand and pricing. The retail monopoly has been broken by the supply monopoly remains nicely intact.

That isn’t stopping Vodafone’s UK CEO Guy Laurence (pictured above) from being in buoyant mood though, not surprising since the iPhone has been such a long time coming. Of course, Lawrence is keen to credit Vodafone’s “outstanding network” for the high demand – and it’s true O2 has had major capacity issues, especially in London – although, technically, Orange’s 3G network covers more of the UK population.

But how long before everybody offers the iPhone?

If you’re a network and you don’t sell Apple’s iconic smartphone then you’re left with a real customer churn problem with regards to some of the highest value customers. T-Mobile, which is on track to merge with Orange, doesn’t yet offer the iPhone in the UK and is known to have had a batch of ‘grey’ imported iPhones as a carrot to keep high spending customers. While a reliable source recently told me that 3UK are doing something similar for their so-called ‘VIP customers’.

  • Dave Nicholls

    Can this really all be attributed to pent up demand for an O2 alternative?

    What about people near the end of their contracts who can’t switch but can upgrade? Or, for that matter, anyone else contractually tied to Vodafone like business users?

    • Steve O'Hear

      If you can upgrade then you can switch normally give or take a month or three, depending on network. Not sure about biz users or how many companies would pay for iPhones.

      • Dave Nicholls

        Your upgrade comment doesn’t make sense. My point is that the people on Vodafone who were happy to move to O2 for an iPhone when their contract expired can now get it earlier by staying where they are, so why wouldn’t they?

        Some insight might come from what proportion of the pre-orders were upgrades. Any idea?

        I know quite a few SME’s using iPhones. With larger businesses I would agree it’s less common, but by no means unknown.

      • Steve O'Hear

        I don’t quite understand your upgrade point. Unless Vodafone is different, you can’t normally ‘upgrade’ until the final month or two of your current contract. Unless, of course, you buy the handset without any subsidy (usually ‘unlocked’ outside of the network, which isn’t an option really for the iPhone, unless you import).

      • Dave Nicholls

        Your first point was that the number of people buying from Vodafone was an indication that they wanted an alternative to O2.

        My point is that people nearing the end of their Vodafone contracts previously had no choice. If they wanted an iPhone and didn’t want to pay two monthly fees they would have to wait until their Vodafone contract expired and then move to O2.

        Now they have an extra choice, upgrade with Vodafone and get the phone earlier.

        Bottom line, your point is only valid if all the people buying from Vodafone are brand new customers who wanted iPhones but wouldn’t sign up with O2. I very much doubt that this is the case.

      • Steve O'Hear

        But by sooner, you are talking 70 days (I just checked) as they won’t be eligible to upgrade before then. I doubt people who fall into that category make up many of the sales.

        My point was that many customers didn’t want to switch to O2 for various reasons so held off from getting an iPhone. Or 2G iPhone owners were waiting for alternatives to O2. Not sure where you got the ‘new to Vodafone’-only part of the argument.

      • Dave Nicholls

        An FT article from last December quotes Vodafone as having 18.7M customers. You really don’t think many of them are in an upgradeable state now?

        My ‘new to Vodafone’ argument is that, given the similarity between pricing across the carriers, any new customer pre-ordering from Vodafone could well be doing so because they want to avoid O2. If they didn’t care about the network why bother to pre-order with Vodafone when you can get the phone today from O2.

        For upgrading customers the same argument doesn’t apply because for them the Vodafone route gets them the phone earlier which may be more of a driver than the network.

        If you don’t know what proportion of the 50,000 were upgrading Vodafone customers you simply do not have the evidence to support your assertion.

      • Steve O'Hear

        OK got ya. Not sure I agree but at least I understand your point now. Thanks :-)

  • http://www.ukstevieb.com/2010/01/15/steviebs-shared-items-january-15-2010/ StevieB’s Shared Items – January 15, 2010 | LostInCyberspace

    […] Vodafone UK begins shipping iPhone – 50,000 pre-orders dispatchedJanuary 14, 2010 […]

  • http://blog.comparechecker.com CompareChecker

    Whoa guys! seems rather heated exchange over whether or not users upgrade?

    I have a friend who works in retail at Vodafone. She witnessed consumers queuing outside stores to get the handset before opening hours.

    I think the seasonal push of christmas shopping is an undeniable factor. Given that the iPhone price policies are so strict there is no great loyalty factor to tie anybody to their network. So supply availability will dictate IMO.

  • http://www.ubbu.de/vodafone-verkauft-am-ersten-tag-50-000-iphones/handy/367/ ubbu.de

    Vodafone verkauft am ersten Tag 50.000 iPhones…

    Auch in England wurde das iPhone, wie auch in Deutschland, exklusiv vermarktet. Anstelle von T-Mobile war es in England exklusiv an O2 gebunden. Später drängte noch der Anbieter Orange in den Markt. Damit ist Vodafone in England der dritte Anbieter. Na…

  • http://mobilestatscentral.com/2010/01/vodafone-uk-begins-shipping-iphone-%e2%80%93-50000-pre-orders-dispatched/ Vodafone UK begins shipping iPhone – 50,000 pre-orders dispatched

    […] [UK] In case you weren’t already convinced by the level of pent up demand for an alternative to O2′s iPhone monopoly in the UK, more evidence comes from Vodafone today. The mobile operator has begun selling the iPhone 3G and 3GS, including shipping 50,000 units to customers who have pre-ordered. That’s a pretty healthy number for Day One but it doesn’t look quite so impressive when compared to the number of pre-orders – 65,000 – that Orange is said to have clocked up in its first few days after announcing it would offer the device. Go to item […]

  • http://krwetatnt.net/vb/f109/ اغاني سعودية

    thaaaaaaaaanks

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