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Vodafone NZ couldn't lose with iPhone

25 Jul 2008

It seemed a fait accompli that Vodafone was going wipe the floor with Telecom and its lead in our mobile duopoly would become virtually unassailable.

When it finally revealed its pricing plans,Vodafone must have realised the $6000-over-two-years contract for a $199 iPhone would seriously reduce the flood of Telecom customers willing to jump ship to get their hands on the iconic mobile. And it was right to expect a flood. This was certainly foreshadowed by overseas experience with the 2G model and IT Brief's own poll conducted shortly after Vodafone announced it had the iPhone backed the assumption. That straw poll had 36 per cent of respondents saying they would opt for a Vodafone account to their hands on an iPhone.

But after the plans were announced, we held another poll. Only 7.7 per cent said they still intended to buy an iPhone, while 17.3 per cent said they had dropped plans to go with Vodafone. Another 30.8 per cent said they would pretend they never really wanted an iPhone in the first place. The remaining 26.9 per cent are waiting for possible competitor offerings.

Obviously it was a gamble Vodafone was prepared to take and after receiving a sound media drubbing over the cost of running an iPhone, it went on to sell out of all its online stock in just a few days.

In hindsight, it was pretty obvious the iPhone was never going to be as cheap as we all somehow believed. After all, what would that say about all those other premium handsets we gladly shelled out $1000 for?

The good news for those that balked at the iPhone is that from August Vodafone will be releasing a new pricing structure for its handset stock and for mobile data. No word yet on how that will affect those already signed up to iPhone contracts.

So did the multinational blow its iPhone opportunity? In a duopoly market like New Zealand's, it seems Vodafone can really do no wrong.