Devices Operators Opinion

So, Vodafone: What are you going to do about my iPad 2?

This is the on-going problem with the mobile industry — and more specifically, subsidies.

Last year Vodafone sold me an iPad 2 for £26 per month on a 24-month contract.

This was on July 27th, 2011. So by my rough reckoning, I won’t be free to ‘upgrade’ that until July 27th, 2013. Or somewhere thereabouts.

That is a problem for me.

It’s not a problem for Vodafone, though.

They don’t care.

Why should they?

We entered into a contract. They sold me a “terminal” with a two year contract. I readily agreed. They’ve been fulfilling their side of the margin every month with data service (and, of course, the supply of the device back in July) and I’ve been paying them every month.

I’ve been entirely satisfied with this arrangement.

My satisfaction has ended this week.

This Friday, my iPad 2 is out of date.

I now need the new one, for a variety of relevant and ridiculous reasons.

Vodafone’s problem is that they’re simply not geared to handle this. It’s not that they don’t care, it’s that they aren’t built to consider this a problem.

The fact that I’m feeling “terminal” device they issued to me last year is now somehow not as good is a huge, HUGE commercial opportunity for Vodafone.

But where’s the phone call?

Where’s the email? Or text? Where’s the PUSH NOTIFICATION?

Where’s the blurb letting me know that the new iPad is out, that you’ll be offering it, that I should seriously think about upgrading?

It’s nonexistent.

[Hey, you never know, perhaps I will be surprised? I’ll believe that when I see it.]

No. The company isn’t setup to understand or deal with this issue.

That’s why Apple is ploughing back the profits and Vodafone’s executive team are busy panicking about the European Union sharpening its legislation knife.

I’d love for Vodafone to understand that YES, I AM AN APPLE FAN. That means you can TAKE MONEY OFF ME for STUFF I DON’T REALLY NEED.

You don’t just need to sit there, Vodafone. You CAN sell me stuff.

I’m going to buy an iPad 3.


Are you with me, Vodafone? I’m buying an iPad 3, right. I’ll either buy it WITH you or WITHOUT. What’s your preference?

If I’m buying it from you, Vodafone, then you can influence the whole thing.

If I go straight to Apple, then — oh boy — it’s head shaking time. This is WHY Apple are winning. If you force me, through inaction, to go to Apple and buy the iPad, what does that say about you, Vodafone?

Pipe. It says you’re just the pipe — and the conveniently accessible financing arm. I don’t have to think about buying an iPad that’s more or less fully financed by Vodafone. I have to think for a few seconds about buying an iPad.

Only a few seconds, mind.

Now then, let’s get a point clear — it’s usually around this section of my argument that the operator executive will interrupt me and explain that “we can’t do stuff for free.”

I’m not asking for free.


I just want it done.

So what’s the cost, Vodafone, for me to have an iPad 3 and play along with the tech fashion like everyone else?

Name the cost.

Go on.

There’s — what — 18 months still outstanding on my contract, a portion of which will be assigned to covering the cost of the iPad 2 originally supplied. So extend the contract. Tell me the cost.

Take my iPad 2 back off me. Recycle that for £250. That goes to pay for the upfront cost of the new iPad. Extend my contract a bit. Charge some admin fees. Keep it fair-but-painful-but-worth-it, the way Apple do it.


That sentence, by the way, was sent to me by an operator executive who read previous posts on this subject. His point being that I should just sell my iPad 2 to get the iPad 3 and carry on with my data plan until the contract runs out.

Yeah. Sure. That’s probably what I’ll end up doing.

But, you’re M-I-S-S-I-N-G the point, Mr Executive. The point is that the moment I do it myself, that’s the moment I can’t avoid recognising that, sadly, you’re not adding any value whatsoever. What’s the point of me doing it? If I do it then there’s zero opportunity for you, Vodafone, to do anything other than take my already recognised 24-month contract revenue and hope-for-the-best when that contract expires.

You never know, perhaps Vodafone’s crack team of propositions experts has been working hard at this precise issue for months now.

Probably not.

[Hello, by the way, to the very patient Vodafone eForum team member who had to read this whole diatribe. You must think I’m nuts.]

I’ve been giving my iPad 3 purchase options a bit of thought over the past week or so since I was chatting away about it all on Sky News.

I think I’ll sell the iPad 2, most probably with a recycling company so I get the cash immediately and don’t need to mess around “selling” it. Then I’ll buy the iPad 3 straight from Apple. Probably via their App Store app on the iPhone, actually.

And at that point, Vodafone, you’re just a utility to me. Dangerous times.

Indeed I’m actually thinking about getting a proper M2M-style prioritised data connection for my next iPad, rather than the bog standard consumer offering. More on that shortly. It’s really cool.

By Ewan

Ewan is Founder and Editor of Mobile Industry Review. He writes about a wide variety of industry issues and is usually active on Twitter most days. You can read more about him or reach him with these details.

18 replies on “So, Vodafone: What are you going to do about my iPad 2?”

I’ve always tended to have the same response to your posts on this topic as the operator executive who asks; why don’t you do it yourself.  But just now it’s clicked with me that the point your making.  It was when I read this; “And at that point, Vodafone, you’re just a utility to me” and thought in my head; “but that’s already all they are”.  Unless I’ve misunderstood again, your saying that’s all they’ll ever be if they don’t do something new and stop complaining when people treat them like a bit-pipe when they behave like a bit-pipe…  Fair enough point, they really don’t leverage their relationships well, which is a shame.  They have the billing relationship, but they’ve not ever really done much with it.  Even that might be slipping away…  Dangerous times indeed.

It’s clear that all of the networks (with the exception of Telefonica) genuinely cannot see what is required to prevent them becoming gas & electric style utilities. I very briefly worked in store for voda and you could clearly see their whole billing and database had its origins in Racal/Vodafone circa 1983, when they had 80 employees and maybe 100’s of customers. Once they gained millions of customers and thousands of employees they were effectively doomed.

If you’d done your research (or had any knowledge on how Apple works) you’d be aware that every company selling the new iPad had to sign an NDA with Apple and cannot communicated availability, stock or pricing of the iPad until after midnight tonight. The asset kit for emails (images, authorised text etc.) hasn’t even been issued by Apple yet.

You’ll get your email from Vodafone. It just won’t be before midnight.

My point is that Vodafone can do nothing about it (at least until tomorrow). Their contract with Apple to sell iPads has very strong stipulations about the display and marketing of the iPad.

If you actually investigated how Apple work with their partners you would know this and the article would be rendered pointless.

Apologies if I made the mistake in thinking that journalism actually involved any research.

 Can you post a link to the pages on Orange’s UK website? I’ve had a look and there’s nothing there.

Likewise for the Carhone Warehouse. Their new iPad page is a sign-up page with a standard Apple image. There is a trade-in link but it makes absolutely no mention of a trade-in specifically for the upgrading to the iPad 3.

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