Home Your Tech Mobility Vodafone – number three with a bullet

Question is will it aim it at its competitors, shoot itself in the foot (again) or go into the library…

Fundamentally I like Vodafone Hutchison Australia (VHA). It is like the little engine that could “I think I can, I know I can, I thought I could”. We all need an underdog to root for and I would love to see a good news story from them.

Media has been relatively kind to it as well – despite it losing what amounts to oh, say a million customers in Australia and New Zealand since mid-2011 reports have generally been upbeat – it is working hard to improve its service and coverage and win back customers from the “evil Optus and Telstra” (who are not evil I say with a Monty Python inflection – just very, very misunderstood).

Well the latest financial report from parent company Vodafone Hutchinson UK reveals that VHA has lost another 128,000 customers in Q4 2012 (reports state 64,000 but that only relates to the 50% UK share in VHA), revenues are down 16% caused by a weakness in brand perception, a declining customer base and lower average revenue per user (ARPU) – no s$*t Sherlock.

What’s wrong with VHA lately? Esteemed iTWire colleagues have reported a number of strange VHA decisions (see links at the end of this article). What about the decision (later backflipped) to charge data by the Megabyte block (when everyone else charges by the Kbyte) – that’s an ARPU Monday desperation driven decision. What about the decision to charge for access to social media sites – that alienated the Gen ME market (and their parents who pay the bills). What about the abandonment of Crazy Johns 20 year old “brand” stores - VHA and Crazy Johns brands were poles apart (but both sold VFA) and appealed to different markets.

VHA CFO Andy Halford told analysts that it had reduced staff by 35% in November and was concentrating on improving network quality. Andy please tell Bill Morrow (CEO) that it is time VHA stopped the PR platitudes and revealed a positive plan with some firm deadlines and growth benchmarks to show how it can get out of its rapidly spiralling decent into the morass. Come on use some of the sympathy we media have left to let us see that it is still viable. If not it is time to move on so we can stop reporting on Vodafail.

By contrast Telstra’s half year report showed they acquired more than 600,000 new customers (in just 6 months).

We don’t make the news – just report it. Come on VHA – give us something else to report other than “We’re not there yet, but we’ve come a long way over the past year – and now we’re building for the future.” Bill Morrow.

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Ray Shaw

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Ray Shaw ray@im.com.au  has a passion for IT ever since building his first computer in 1980. He is a qualified journalist, hosted a consumer IT based radio program on ABC radio for 10 years, has developed world leading software for the events industry and is smart enough to no longer own a retail computer store!

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