3 mins to read

Vodafone loses 25,000 customers

For its March quarter, buoyed by XT woes, Vodafone enjoyed a net-gain of 11,000 customers. The quarter before that, it picked up 9000.But a reversal of fortune is revealed in the company's latest accounts, just released by its UK parent. For the three mon

Chris Keall
Sat, 24 Jul 2010

For its March quarter, buoyed by XT woes, Vodafone enjoyed a net-gain of 11,000 customers. The quarter before that, it picked up 9000.

But a reversal of fortune is revealed in the company’s latest accounts, just released by its UK parent. For the three months to June 30, Vodafone NZ had a net loss of 25,000 customers (worldwide, Vodafone recorded a strong result, centered around an increase in data revenue).

The result sees Vodafone's market share by connection dip below 50% for the first time since the XT and 2degrees launches.

Mobile connections/market share by connection
Vodafone: 2,479,000* 49.82%
Telecom: 2,291,000** 46.04%
2degrees: 206,000 *** 4.14%

Vodafone's customer count does not include connections to its growing band of mobile virtual network operator partners, which includes TelstraClear (around 30,000), CallPlus (5000), Orcon, B+W and Compass (1000)****.

If these wholesale partners - who have all launched over the past year - are included, then Vodafone remains over the 50% mark.

Telecom's first 3G wholesale partner to launch, Digital Island, told NBR it has 1000 customers as of July 22.

2degrees has not supplied any customer update since its February 26 claim that it had 206,000 customers who had paid for a call in the past 30 days. But it did tell NBR last week that the number of customers who had ported a Telecom or Vodafone number to its service - which stood at 53,000 on February 26 and had jumped to 75,000 by June 4, according to figures - now stands at 83,000.

XT wakes up
The quarter saw Telecom resume XT marketing with a deftly-pitched appeal to Kiwi can-do spirit, and a 30-day trial offer. The new campaign began June 3.

It also saw 2degrees launch a major campaign to promote number portability, or the ability to bring an 021 or 027 number to the new network.

A recently departed senior Telecom employee told NBR this morning: "Telecom Business churn rebounded quickly in May" on the back of a "sharp increase" in XT sales. "[Telecom is] winning back some bigger SMEs now".

Silver lining
Vodafone NZ’s accounts hint that 2degrees may be picking up some of its losses - as the number of its customers on pre-pay slips again, this time from 70.2% to 69.5% (2degrees only offers pre-pay plans; historically, Vodafone has had around 72% of its customers on pre-pay).

If so, the silver lining for Vodafone is that it’s losing low-end customers.

"Vodafone is pleased with the result, given the highly competitive nature of the New Zealand market. With 2egrees’ entry and both Telecom and Vodafone offering wholesale service to a raft of mobile providers, the New Zealand market has changed dramatically over the past 12 months," a Vodafone spokesman told NBR this morning.

"Our on-account result shows the effort the sales teams have put in to winning new business in the contract customer space. Vodafone has always offered greater value to those customers who sign up to a contract in return for the certainty contract customers deliver."

iPhone, iPad boost?
As Apple’s sole official NZ carrier, Vodafone should get a boost in the current quarter from the release of the iPhone 4 and iPad 3G.

And the Friday iPad launch seemed to go well, with Magnum Mac in Newmarket alone selling 200 tablets according figures supplied to NBR by pretend Super Mayor Cameron Brewer.

And all iPads come with a Vodafone Micro-SIM inside (although the telco offers no handset subsidy).

But the gloss has been taken off the launch (for Vodafone) but the fact that Telecom (from next week), 2degrees and MVNOs like Orcon will all offer their own Micro-SIMs Apple’s new gadgets.

Vodafone (and Telecom's) biggest challenge in the newly competitive mobile market - 2degrees' 3G launch - is yet to come.

But a live 3G trial is now underway (see NBR's test results, and much more on the 3G launch, here).

Vodafone NZ connections: a recent history
Q2 08/09: 2,427,000
Q3 08/09: 2,464,000
Q4 08/09: 2,502,000
Q1 09/10: 2,511,000 [Telecom launches XT]
Q2 09/10: 2,484,000 [2degrees launches]
Q3 09/10: 2,493,000
Q4 09/10: 2,504,000
Q1 10/11: 2,479,000    

* To June 30, 2010. Vodafone PLC financial statement, July 23, 2010
** To March 31, 2010. Telecom financial statement, May 24, 2010
*** 2degrees media statement, February 26
**** MVNO figures supplied to NBR by CallPlus, TelstraClear, Compass and Digitial Island on July 22.

Chris Keall
Sat, 24 Jul 2010
© All content copyright NBR. Do not reproduce in any form without permission, even if you have a paid subscription.
Vodafone loses 25,000 customers