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.
“We’ve got the billing relationship” is a perfectly acceptable viewpoint.
Until, that is, (for example) half a million of your UK customers swap to o2 in order to get an iPhone. .
I’m not saying that’s going to happen. Certainly not half a million, I’m sure. But if a sizable portion of users churn from Voda to o2, it’ll be interesting to see just how much that ‘billing relationship’ is worth when they’re paying o2 and NOT Vodafone.
If nobody churns, if we’re talking say, 10,000 net loss customers by say March 2008, so be it. Sit back and laud it, Arooon. But if it’s a large churn, it’s going to get interesting very fast.
Meanwhile, steady as she goes whilst the biggies, the Googles, the Apples and the Nokias are all establishing their own direct relationships with Vodafone’s customers…