There’s a whole range of things. What we’re seeing is that those requirements vary dramatically across our customers. There is an element of design, not all of the business users are looking primarily at functionality, there is an issue of durability. They are increasingly finding that the smaller and smaller handsets are starting to be too small for some people. It really is very much horses for courses. Phonebook capacity is a being quite a big issue now, people are carrying not only their business contacts which can be several tens of hundreds, but also their personal contacts as well, so we’re looking at large 400/500+ name capacity.
Cameras is an interesting thing. Some businesses are looking at the security implications of cameras and saying ‘No, we don’t want cameras on our phones.’ Others, depending very much on what business they’re in are absolutely demanding cameras, estate agents, florists, even casting directors are using camera phones to really get productivity into their daily lives. One thing that is key for all of our business customers is car-kits, hands free, complying with the law – that’s a rule that we have, none of our business handsets go to market without a car-kit.
It’s very difficult in the SME area to say ‘this is the definitive handset’. The areas where we see more demand, more focus, is on durability so for example if you get into the construction or outdoor working, those people aren’t interested in small flip phones because generally they’ve got gloves on so they’re much more interested in larger candy-bar phones and in fact we even carry a phone in our range that’s rubberised and ruggedised. It really is trying to match the right handset and service to the right person so there really is no definitive answer.
They’re very much more aware of network performance, coverage, the quality of coverage, the ability to make calls in all circumstances – that’s very key to them. If you’re looking at applications I would say that the biggest thing we get demand from business customers for is email and calendaring – personal information management solutions. In our blackberry range we’ve got the 7100b which is very much a voice orientated phone but it has the full emailexperience. And then, what we call the classic blackberry, they’re much more oriented towards email. The reason for carrying those two devices is that the classic blackberry suits some people and the 7100b suits others, it is all about horses for courses.
The biggest thing in terms of our services has obviously been our 3G, we’re very pleased with the way that some business are taking up what we pitched at consumers, our Live! service because there are a number of features within that that are very relevant to the business community, some of our location based services such as find and seek, where am I, where’s the nearest petrol station or cashpoint, where’s my nearest bar, that sort of thing. They’re being taken up quite strongly in the business sector.
The other thing that is very significant is the increase in our roaming, we now have roaming agreements in 174 countries worldwide. We are seeing an incredible number of people go abroad and use a wide range of services. We back that up for example now with 53 countries for our basic data roaming, so your blackberry will work in 53 countries including all of Europe and America. That’s now backed up again with 3G roaming – you can have the full laptop experience with your datacard, you can take to 10 countries, 250 major cities around the world and uniquely that includes Japan.
Blackberry has been absolutely amazing, we’re very pleased and excited about the 7100v and how that’s going to go – that’s exclusive to us and we’re keen to see how that goes.
We think [3G handsets] are going to have a big impact. We’ve chosen to go with a consumer launch initially with Live! powered by 3G, but there are a couple of handsets in there that we do recommend for business in the short term until early next year when we will have a much more rounded business proposition around 3G handsets. There are two handsets in the range, Sony Ericsson V800 and also the Motorola E1000, which is a little bit more conventional both of those are recommended today if a business cannot wait until early next year. We are quite happy to take them and they will get support through our retail arm or through their Vodafone account managers to take those handsets if they are essential to their business.
Will soon be able to use 3G handset as modem with bluetooth connection.
There are some customers that are just interested in ’Does it work, does it do what I need it to do?’ there are other customers, and it’s a generalisation, but the further you go up the scale in terms of the size and sophistication of some of these customers, the more they’re interested in the technology, the more they have IT/IS departments that are very interested in getting into the nuts and bolts and extending their corporate data networks into the mobile realm.
Push to Talk
We’re very much looking at it but at the moment we really haven’t come to a conclusion.
We have a huge advantage over the PC world in that we’ve seen what’s happened there and we have learned from that and continue to learn that. It is a big issue, we have a very large team at Vodafone looking at exactly this sort of thing – security on the handset. One of the advantages we have on the handsets is that very few of them have open operating systems, although they are coming – Symbian based phones are here. What is being done is that those operating systems are being developed not only by the manufacturers but by people like ourselves, the operators so we can together as an industry to try and address some of these security issues. We have an advantage, we’ve got to stay ahead of the game and the amount of effort we’re putting into it will make sure we do stay ahead.
I think the key issue is to thing of it as a whole, don’t focus in on one element. What is your total communication requirement? Who do you call, how often, when do you call them. Today you also need to bring your data requirements in that, whether it’s access to our Live! services via a handset, access to your email via a blackberry or a full laptop experience via a Mobile Connect card. You also need to think about who your business talks to and how, so what’s their central network? What we’re seeing more and more is that text is becoming a valid business tool particularly amongst relationships that have already been formed and are carried on in day to day business. We have solutions, such as Text Center which allow you to send text messages from your desktop as though it was coming from your mobile phone. You also need to think, obviously, about pricing and in the SME we offer essentially free internal calls – that can be very significant to you.
Service – network. Level of service, can you get through? Can you get first time