Posts Tagged ‘Vodafone’
With the economy slowly on the mend and the industry struggling with bandwidth, there is a merger mania going on in the mobile industry. Orange & T-Mobile over in UK have kicked things off and Sprint-Nextel followed it by acquiring the Virgin Mobile MVNO that operates on Sprint’s network. In addition, Bharti Airtell merger with MTN was stopped by Indian Government. There are more rumors which are making the investment bankers salivate. So what are they pushing?
First up is the perrenial favorite, Microsoft & RIM merger. Henry Blodget, CEO of Business Insider, thinks that Microsoft should buy RIM even though it might be expensive. On paper, this match is made in heaven with Microsoft’s strong engineering, deep pockets and large, loyal commercial customer base and RIM’s strength in enterprise email and hardware. This has been talked about for two years or more now but Microsoft has indicated that they are not interested. It remains to be seen how long it takes the talking heads and the investment types to convince MS otherwise.
This next one is intriguing and if it comes to fruition, this could shake the worldwide mobile industry up and at the same time give some joy to its competitors. There are rumors coming out of UK over the weekend that Vodafone might be considering merging with Verizon Communication so that it can get some benefits from its investment in their joint venture Verizon Wireless. Now, if this were to happen, it could be big news as two of the most popular wireless brands would merge and can become truly a worldwide behemoth. However, there are dangers in this for both companies as the integration could take their focus away from growing and fighting off the competition. From timing perspective, this might be a now or never moment. Given that the industry is slowing and worldwide economy is not expected to expand until after Q3 of 2010, it might be tempting to roll the dice. However, there are significant hurdles to this deal as regulators in Europe, Asia and US will have to approve the deal which alone could take up well over a year. In the meantime, the two companies must keeping moving forward. Vodafone needs to continue to focus on growth in Western Europe and India while Verizon needs to build out its LTE network and not give up ground to AT&T. If the two companies can pull this off with any form of succcess, it would be a significant coup and feather in the cap of the leadership team. But, all this is conjecture until the deal is announced.
Finally, this deal seems to be equally long-shot. Deutche Telecom, is considering acquiring Sprint-Nextel and merging it with its T-Mobile Unit. While regulators should not have hard time approving it, the merger process would be insane with Sprint still trying to clean up after its Nextel acquisition. In addition, Sprint needs to decide what to do with its Clearwire investment.
It was day 2 (almost on its way to day 3) of the MWC in Barcelona and it was Android’s day to shine. Several carriers and smartphone makers announced today that they will be launching devices powered by Google’s Android OS. First up, Vodafone announced that it will launch HTC’s Magic, the keyboard-less G1. Following up on Vodafone’s announcement with 1-2-3 punches, Heuwei launched its sleek-looking Android device; Acer is working on 2 Android based devices while Samsung does one better by launching 3 Android devices and potentially a Linux Mobile phone too.
In other news, Nokia announced that it will bundle Skype software on all its N-series phones starting with the N97. Also, a group of 17 phone manufacturers and carriers, under the auspices of GSM, adopted the universal charger standard. Phone manufacturers including LG, Samsung, Nokia, Sony Ericsson, Motorola and operators like AT&T, Orange, Vodafone, T-Mobile and Telefonica agreed to use the microUSB socket as the standard power sockets on all their phones by 2012. Key holdouts include Apple, RIM and Palm, though RIM already uses MiniUSB on its Blackberry devices.
Here is a very funny video of the Blackberry Storm being unboxed from across the pond in UK. The background conversation and effects are hilarious.
[Via Boy Genius Report]
Vodafone today put out a press release announcing the launch of the Blackberry Storm on November 14 and also said that it was taking pre-orders. However, in a few short hours, the delivery date was updated on the pre-order page to be November 18th. Boy Genius Report, who reported this first, believes that Vodafone botched the launch. However, I feel that they are playing safe and taking a page out of the Android G1 phone where they announce a delivery date and deliver it earlier than expected. Let’s see how it plays out.
Batten down the hatches, folks! Storm is on its way…at least in UK it is. Vodafone is gearing up to launch the Blackberry Storm in UK on November 7th. As I mentioned last week, they have already announced their pricing tiers which I think Verizon aught to copy, but will not. It has already got 70,000 pre-orders for the phone and is telling cutomers who purchase it online that the phones will arrive at their home by November 11.
Across the pond, in US, Verizon has updated its Storm site and is launching a scavenger hunt contest beginning November 6th and will run through November 15th for NYC residents. This means the phone is likely to launch on November 16th.
Some time back, I had reported on the Verizon’s pricing of the Blackberry Storm. Today, Crackberry.com, got hold of Vodafone’s pricing. It is a tiered pricing with either higher upfront cost and lower monthly payments or lower upfront cost and higher monthly payments. Three of these plans have additional freebies too. Take a look:
- Under the Perfect Choice Access 100 plan, the Storm handset will retail for €109.99 and will cost €49.99 a month as part of a bundle that will include 100 minutes, 100 texts, 1GB of BlackBerry email, mobile TV and 10 full-track music downloads.
- Under the Perfect Choice Access 200 plan, the Storm handset will retail for €64.99 and will cost €64.99 a month as part of a bundle that will include 200 minutes, 200 texts, 1GB of BlackBerry email, mobile TV and 10 full-track music downloads.
- Under the Perfect Choice Access 400 plan, the Storm handset will retail for €69.99 and will cost €84.99 a month as part of a bundle that will include 400 minutes, 400 texts, 1GB of BlackBerry email, mobile TV and 10 full-track music downloads.
- And under the Perfect Choice Access 600 plan, the Storm handset will retail for €49.99 and will cost €99.99 a month as part of a bundle that will include 600 minutes, 600 texts, 1GB of BlackBerry email, mobile TV and 10 full-track music downloads.
Now, I say, this is a sensible pricing strategy. It gives the customer the flexibility to decide which plan suits their needs and also the device does not cost an arm and a leg, unlike the Verizon pricing of between $300 -$400 with 2-year contract. Also, Vodafone’s contract is for 18 months. Clearly, Vodafone sees that there is competition in the market and the economic times are going to put downward pressure on sales. I predict Vodafone will see robust demand with this pricing plan.
RIM is busy working on its highly anticipated launch of the Blackberry Storm next month. There are high expectations of this phone from not only Verizon Wireless and early adopters, but also from analysts. I would expect RIM has a lot riding on this too. Let’s take a look why:
– Expectations: RIM had indicated when it released the Q2 financial statements, that it expects Q3 revenue to be between $2.9-$3.1 billion. That was with the assumption that it would launch the Blackberry Bold early in the quarter and follow it up with the Blackberry Storm release. With delayed release of the Blackberry Bold, it has a lot of ground to make up in the last month to meet those expectations.
– Competition: Apple has been eating RIM’s lunch since it launched its iPhone 3G, as evidenced by the stellar performance at both Apple and AT&T (even with the high cost of iPhone). Also, Steve Jobs, CEO of Apple has clearly indicated that he has RIM in his crosshair. RIM has to respond to this challenge. With iPhone 3G, Apple has tried to move into RIM’s enterprise turf. RIM is countering that with its Blackberry Bold (when it launches) and is hoping to fight the battle on Apple’s prosumer turf with the launch of Blackberry Storm. In addition, Google’s Android and Microsoft’s Windows Mobile based touchscreen phones are also going to give RIM a headache.
– Economic Condition: Given the current economic climate, RIM has a lot to worry as enterprise customers, which make up almost 40% of its revenue, try to reduce spending. RIM is hoping that Blackberry Storm, Curve, Pearl and other prosumer targeted devices with touchscreen that it plans on releasing next year will help it offset the losses in the enterprise market.
– Investor Pressure: RIM management will be on short leash here given the economic jitters and constant bearish sentiment from the analysts. If the Blackberry Storm does not succeed, investors might push the co-CEOs out or worse look to sell it. The co-CEOs own 12% of the company and as such might not be easily pushed out, but they will have incredible pressure from institutional investors to change course. Also, the constant rumor of Microsoft being interested in buying RIM has to play a role in this. Note that when the rumor surfaced around October 13th, it was said that Microsoft had a standing offer to buy RIM at $50 a share. At that time, RIM’s stock price was at $61. Today, it is at $44. So, does that offer look good or what? However, I think it might be a smart move for Apple to make an offer. Steve Jobs wants to be successful in the enterprise market and if the iPhone starts losing its lustre, Apple will start looking like a one-trick pony, which I am sure Jobs and company will want to avoid. Also it would seriously challenge Microsoft in the mobile market. Though, from a cultural sense, I don’t know if RIM and Apple would be a good fit.
For all these reasons and more, RIM needs Blackberry Storm to succeed. It is doing everything it can to make it happen. Last few days has seen a flurry of activity including release of Blackberry Web Signals Technology and Blackberry Application Store; Blackberry Developer Conference and subsequent courting of the developer community; and massive marketing with Verizon Wireless and Vodafone. Now, like the US electorate, all RIM can do is wait for November and let the market decide.