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This Friday, my iPad 2 is out of date.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?
[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.
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.
WHY DON’T YOU JUST DO IT YOURSELF!!!!!!!!!!!!
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.
[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.