Vodafone CEO sticks head in sand, goes 'La la la'

'No one can take our customers'


Arun Sarin has told the FT that he has nothing to fear from Apple's iPhone/iTunes combination, or Google's Android, or even Nokia's Ovi, as no one can ever take their customers' billing relationship away from them.

Network operators have long felt no one could compete in providing services to their customers - they have the billing relationship, so they control how much their customers are charged, and for what.

For many years that was the case, but since failing entirely to take advantage of that relationship they have allowed a raft of competitors to create their own connections to customers - something Mr. Sarin appears not to have noticed.

"The simple fact that we have the customer and billing relationship is a hugely powerful thing that nobody can take away from us," he says, describing this as a "unique gift".

But Truphone (VoIP) customers have a billing relationship with Truphone, as well as their network operator, and should anyone decide to buy content from Nokia's Ovi portal then they too will have established a relationship directly with the customer - or at least the customer's credit card. Smartphone users are buying games from Handango, books from Amazon and maps from Nokia, all without recourse to the "unique gift" of operator-control.

He also argues that only Vodafone knows where their customers are, giving them a unique ability to target searches and advertising. But Nokia's A-GPS-equipped handsets communicate with Nokia's servers when getting a location fix, thanks to European operators' reluctance to deploy A-GPS, and any handset with GPS can share its location with the online world, so that location information isn't as privileged as Mr. Sarin thinks.

Five years ago these statements might have made sense, but the CEO of Vodafone should be better informed. Operators may have had exclusive access to their customers once, but those times are swiftly passing.

"Whoever comes into the marketplace is going to have to work through us," predicts Mr Sarin in the FT. Luckily Vodafone do appear to be trying to compete in providing services to their customers, rather than relying on the outdated understanding business architecture espoused by their CEO to the FT. ®

Similar topics

Broader topics


Other stories you might like

  • Dog forgets all about risk of drowning in a marsh as soon as drone dangles a sausage

    It's not the wurst idea in the world

    Man's best friend, though far from the dumbest animal, isn't that smart either. And if there's one sure-fire way to get a dog moving, it's the promise of a snack.

    In another fine example of drones being used as a force for good, this week a dog was rescued from mudflats in Hampshire on the south coast of England because it realised that chasing a sausage dangling from a UAV would be a preferable outcome to drowning as the tide rose.

    Or rather the tantalising treat overrode any instinct the pet had to avoid the incoming water.

    Continue reading
  • Almost there: James Webb Space Telescope frees its mirrors and prepares for insertion

    Freed of launch restraints, mirror segments can waggle at will

    NASA scientists have deployed mirrors on the James Webb Space Telescope ahead of a critical thruster firing on Monday.

    With less than 50,000km to go until the spacecraft reaches its L2 orbit, the segments that make up the primary mirror of the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) are ready for alignment. The team carefully moved all 132 actuators lurking on the back of the primary mirror segments and secondary mirror, driving the former 12.5mm away from the telescope structure.

    Continue reading
  • Arm rages against the insecure chip machine with new Morello architecture

    Prototypes now available for testing

    Arm has made available for testing prototypes of its Morello architecture, aimed at bringing features into the design of CPUs that provide greater robustness and make them resistant to certain attack vectors. If it performs as expected, it will likely become a fundamental part of future processor designs.

    The Morello programme involves Arm collaborating with the University of Cambridge and others in tech to develop a processor architecture that is intended to be fundamentally more secure. Morello prototype boards are now being released for testing by developers and security specialists, based on a prototype system-on-chip (SoC) that Arm has built.

    Arm said that the limited-edition evaluation boards are based on the Morello prototype architecture embedded into an Armv8.2-A processor. This is an adaptation of the architecture in the Arm Neoverse N1 design aimed at data centre workloads.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022