Mobile Industry Awards
Mobile Industry Awards

2012 Winners

Runners up - Nokia Lumia 900 and Huawei Ascend D Quad

Its latest advertising campaign features a student jumping out of a plane while using its flagship handset, and HTC’s win in this category shows the Taiwanese company knows how to thrill.

The HTC One X won over the judges to become the Hottest New Phone for 2012. One judge said: ‘The HTC One X is the clear winner in terms of launch excitement and the public interest around it. It’s a great phone, has a great screen and the device is fantastic.’

The One X is a key element in HTC’s fightback strategy after a rocky 2011 and its research and investment has clearly paid off. The panel hailed the slick design of the device. One said it was the ‘best phone’ the Taiwanese manufacturer had produced ‘for ages’. Another noted: ‘It looks a damn sight cooler than the iPhone 4S.’

The panel praised HTC for creating a human side to the One X through its marketing campaign. HTC’s Sense overlay was lauded for its openness and for ironing out Android’s occasional quirks. The panel also discussed some of the standout features on the One X, such as the eight-megapixel camera with its swift one-second start-up and ability to snap pictures while shooting video, and the crystal clear Beats Audio sound system.

One judge said: ‘It’s been very smart by focusing on people and talking about the camera and the sound. That’s what people understand, not talking about megapixels or quad-core chips.’

The judges were so impressed with the One series that early debate centred on which HTC device should take the Hottest New Phone accolade – the high-spec One X or the mid-tier One S.

One panellist said: ‘For me it’s HTC but it is hard to pick between the two. In terms of capability, they do the same thing. The innovations in the One X are in the One S.’ Another pointed out that while the One X will receive all the plaudits, the more keenly-priced One S will likely sell more.

But ultimately the slick and speedy One X had that crucial ‘wow’ factor. The panel felt this device was an early contender for Phone of the Year at next year’s Mobile Industry Awards. One judge said: ‘The One X is clearly the hot phone. It’s a great leap forward for HTC.’

Shortlist

  • HTC One S 
  • HTC One X
  • Nokia Lumia 900
  • Panasonic Eluga
  • LG Optimus 4x HD
  • Nokia 808 PureView
  • Huawei Ascend D Quad

Runner up - Daisy Distribution

Avenir Telecom has made it two in a row, clinching the Best Airtime Distributor award for the second year running. The distributor garnered the most compliments from our dealer survey panel. One said: ‘It offers brilliant payment plans and boasts excellent, well-trained staff who are always eager to help and support dealers.’

But it’s not only dealers that have been lavishing praise on the Borehamwood-based business. In December it fought off strong competition to be crowned the O2 Customer Service Partner of the Year, with the operator commending Avenir for being ‘polite, approachable and customer-focused’.

It has certainly proved a hit with customers over the past 12 months, scoring as high as 91.45 in its Customer Satisfaction Index scores. This far exceeds the typical benchmark of 70 or more. The distributor has also paid out more than £10m to partners during the past year.

Avenir hasn’t rested on its laurels since winning last year’s award. The company has moved into converged services, launched a new accessories division and hired a sales force expert. It is leading the innovation charge by launching a new insurance portal, which will allow stockists to sell industry-approved insurance policies directly to its own customers.

This investment in services is being matched by an investment in people. The headcount in its purchasing department is set to increase so more products and services can be offered to customers. And it recently poached market rival Daisy’s head of mobile as its new sales director for airtime.

One dealer concluded: ‘We find it very easy to work with the team at Avenir and no query or question is ever too simple or too difficult to get to the bottom of.’

Shortlist:

  • Avenir Telecom
  • Daisy Distribution
  • Mainline Digital Communications

Runner up - BrightPoint

Micro-P’s Nokia contract win shocked and impressed the industry in equal measure and it’s no surprise this stunning piece of deal-making helped the distributor clinch this award. The three-year exclusive deal was described at the time as a ‘game-changer’ and is an example of how Micro-P is pushing into the b2c market.

However, the distributor’s high standing among its peers also had a bearing on the panel’s decision. Micro-P proved a popular choice, and one whose business model is rated by the dealer community. One dealer said: ‘It’s an excellent and pro-active distribution partner. It takes time to understand and appreciate our business requirements and needs, and it seeks to work with us in a truly value-added and collaborative manner.’ Another enthused: ‘A good all-round company that stays in touch with its dealers, and offers advice and guidance. Trouble does not exist with them.’

One sign that Micro-P’s handset strategy is starting to pay dividends lies in its decision to build a new 6,000 sq ft showroom by its Chineham Park offices in Basingstoke.

The new premises will serve as a showcase for the latest handsets from its distribution partners, which include Samsung and BlackBerry as well as Nokia. Another is how its mobile team continues to expand to help with its base of more than 14,000 resellers. By the end of this year, the headcount in its Stoke-On-Trent-based mobile division will have almost doubled.

Shortlist

  • BrightPoint
  • Data Select
  • Micro-P


Runner up - Frequency Telecom

Avenir has been selling accessories for some time now with sales accounting for around a fifth of total turnover. But the distributor felt it should put its money where its mouth is this year, creating a standalone division after years of phenomenal growth.

Avenir Accessories sells into both the business and consumer market, targeting them with a wide ranging portfolio of accessories spanning cases, headphones, chargers, cables and gadgets.

Avenir Accessories impressed our panel with its innovative range of own-brand products. Its BeeWi range was duly rewarded at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, where its remote-controlled helicopter took home the Best Bluetooth Product award. Its OXO product line is targeted at fashionable high street shoppers and includes ranges of wired headphones and mobile phone covers.

As well as the mass market, Avenir Accessories also targets high income consumers with its range of WeSC RZA headphones and Umberto Bellini phone cases. Its exclusive partnership with Energizer to supply its range of mobile charging devices also impressed the panel.

Dealers said that in addition to its diverse product portfolio, they were impressed by the quality of Avenir Accessories’ proposition. One said: ‘The levels of service provided by Avenir are second to none.’

Shortlist

  • Avenir Accessories
  • Frequency Telecom
  • Genuine Solutions
  • Micro-P

Runners up - Savin Communications and Communicate Better

Uplands MD Paul Hooper self-deprecatingly described himself as ‘always the bridesmaid’ during his presentation to the judging panel, with the dealer having been previously shortlisted. However, he should have no such worries this year, with the judges deeply impressed with his achievements.

The panel said it was the stability and credibility of Uplands that distinguished it from its peers. It has enjoyed a consistent and solid financial performance with a range of joined up communications solutions and mobile technology products. Turnover and net profit are both up by more than 5% and it experienced its 10th successive year of single digit churn.

The business has been trading for 33 years and has grown organically and through acquisition during the past 12 months and now has more than 100,000 customers. The O2 Centre of Excellence partner generated £10m of business for the operator over the past year. One judge said: ‘From a purely professional perspective, Hooper was very impressive. He recognised the need to deliver a really good level of service, which is crucial. He understands the end-to-end customer journey and how to deal with issues along the way.’

While Uplands’ focus on core business scored highly among the judges, the panel was also impressed by its innovation. One example of this was the opening of a new office in north Somerset to provide space for new businesses ‘who want to step up’. One judge said: ‘All in all, it’s a very credible organisation. What Hooper has done is get the core of the business right and then add to it in an impressive way.’

Shortlist

  • Communicate Better
  • Quore
  • Savin Communications
  • Uplands

Runner up - T-Mobile

Three UK came up trumps in this hotly contested category to retain the Best Mobile Broadband award. It continues to offer the best overall mobile data experience out of the big five UK networks, providing a service with excellent coverage, reliability and performance, as well as competitive pricing and cutting edge hardware. For the second year running Three was the clear winner of the Broadband Genie Road Trip 2012 and the network also recorded some impressive numbers in our speed tests over the past few months.

Of the 30 tests, Three successfully completed all but seven, during which we recorded an average speed of 1.93Mbps.

It also managed the best individual download speed we’ve ever seen from a mobile broadband dongle, reaching an impressive 4.44Mbps during one test, plus a strong 2.04Mbps upload. The battle for the runners-up spot was between T-Mobile and Vodafone. T-Mobile managed the most successful tests after Three, with 20 out of 30 completed, while Vodafone was just behind with 19, though neither had particularly impressive download results with an average of 1.31Mbps for Vodafone and 1.49Mbps on T-Mobile. Top individual speeds were 2.69Mbps for T-Mobile and 2.64Mbps for Vodafone. The results of Broadband Genie’s speed test from the last six months show a slight improvement in average download speeds, clocking in at 1.94Mbps compared to 1.34Mbps this time last year. 

O2 managed the fastest average download speed at 2.08Mbps, though Three was right behind it with 2.07Mbps. However, in our experience Three provides a more dependable mobile broadband service. Vodafone hit a reasonable 1.83Mbps, while T-Mobile came second to last at 1.53Mps. The worst result was from Orange, which had an average download speed of just 1.06Mbps, though our own testing has shown it is occasionally capable of a much better performance.

Shortlist

  • O2
  • Orange
  • T-Mobile
  • Three
  • Vodafone

Runners up - Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime and Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1

Its latest advertising campaign features a student jumping out of a plane while using its flagship handset, and HTC’s win in this category shows the Taiwanese company knows how to thrill.

The HTC One X won over the judges to become the Hottest New Phone for 2012. One judge said: ‘The HTC One X is the clear winner in terms of launch excitement and the public interest around it. It’s a great phone, has a great screen and the device is fantastic.’

The One X is a key element in HTC’s fightback strategy after a rocky 2011 and its research and investment has clearly paid off. The panel hailed the slick design of the device. One said it was the ‘best phone’ the Taiwanese manufacturer had produced ‘for ages’. Another noted: ‘It looks a damn sight cooler than the iPhone 4S.'

The panel praised HTC for creating a human side to the One X through its marketing campaign. HTC’s Sense overlay was lauded for its openness and for ironing out Android’s occasional quirks. The panel also discussed some of the standout features on the One X, such as the eight-megapixel camera with its swift one-second start-up and ability to snap pictures while shooting video, and the crystal clear Beats Audio sound system.

One judge said: ‘It’s been very smart by focusing on people and talking about the camera and the sound. That’s what people understand, not talking about megapixels or quad-core chips.’

The judges were so impressed with the One series that early debate centred on which HTC device should take the Hottest New Phone accolade – the high-spec One X or the mid-tier One S. One panellist said: ‘For me it’s HTC but it is hard to pick between the two. In terms of capability, they do the same thing. The innovations in the One X are in the One S.’ Another pointed out that while the One X  will receive all the plaudits, the more keenly-priced One S will likely sell more.

But ultimately the slick and speedy One X had that crucial ‘wow’ factor. The panel felt this device was an early contender for Phone of the Year at next year’s Mobile Industry Awards. One judge said: ‘The One X is clearly the hot phone. It’s a great leap forward for HTC.’

Shortlist

  • New Apple iPad
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1
  • Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime
  • Motorola Xoom 2 Media Edition
  • Orange Tahiti

Runners up - Apple iPhone 4S and Sony Xperia S

The battle for the best phone award was a two horse race but in the end, our judges were united in their view that the Samsung Galaxy S II be crowned Phone of the Year.

The Android device, which was voted the Hottest New Phone at last year’s Mobile Industry Awards, pipped Apple’s iPhone 4S to the accolade. While the judges admired the bestselling Apple device, they felt it was a step forward in its smartphone evolution, whereas the Galaxy S II represented a ‘sea change’ in Samsung’s portfolio. The judges talked up the excitement that surrounded the device’s launch. One said: ‘It’s just a massive handset – people love it and it’s a really excellent device.’

Another judge said the Galaxy S II’s longevity of sales was a critical factor in its triumph in this category. After its launch in May it came racing out of the blocks, bolstered by some three million pre-orders. But it refused to slow down and by February Samsung had shipped some 20 million handsets. The manufacturer worked with operators and retailers throughout the year to make the Galaxy S II affordable. One judge spoke admiringly about the ‘giant marketing bubble’ surrounding the device. This ensured the Galaxy S II remained one of the year’s most consistent bestsellers, topping one chart for 11 of the 12 months since its launch.

The speed at which the Galaxy S II captured the imagination of the industry also impressed the judges. One said: ‘Samsung has ridden its momentum to the top with the Galaxy S II.’

Another agreed, adding: ‘If you went back four years, you would wonder if there was anybody who could rival Apple. Now the question is can Apple do enough to stay ahead of the competition?’

Samsung’s emphasis on pin-sharp screens is now so established that it is hard to remember how much of an impact the Galaxy S II’s 4.3-inch Super AMOLED Plus display had when it launched. The super responsive screen wowed critics, as did the eight-megapixel camera, HD video recording capability and wealth of multimedia features. The swift dual-core processor means the device can still compete with the best of 2012’s handsets.

While Android Gingerbread 2.3 was the latest Google OS when it went on sale, Galaxy S II owners in the UK have since received an upgrade to Ice Cream Sandwich. Its cleaner and speedier interface has left owners feeling like they have purchased a new phone.

The panel could not identify one weak point in the device, which impressed with its usability, features, looks and excitement. ‘The public really can’t get enough of it,’ said one judge.

And there’s more to come. The Galaxy S III came out too late for consideration this year, but our panel said the early signs were it is likely to be a heavyweight contender at next year’s awards.

Shortlist

  • Apple iPhone 4S
  • Samsung Galaxy S II
  • Sony Xperia S
  • Nokia Lumia 800
  • HTC Sensation XE
  • BlackBerry Bold Touch 9900
  • Samsung Galaxy Note
  • Prada Phone by LG 3.0
  • Motorola Atrix
  • Orange San Francisco II

Runners up - Samsung and Sony

The company’s slogan is ‘quietly brilliant’ but HTC’s marketing team has something to shout about again after winning the Best Manufacturer Field Marketing prize for the second year in a row. The judging panel was impressed by how HTC’s team went about its business with a quiet efficiency. They don’t disparage rival handsets, distract staff with some blinding spec stats, or read from a pre-prepared script.

As a result, the HTC team visits are the most eagerly awaited among shopfloor staff. One judge said: ‘They are very passionate and enthusiastic, and staff love talking to them. The team keep it really simple and show the benefits of using the device, rather than bragging about specs.’

The panel highlighted two areas HTC excelled in which reflect how the manufacturer sees its field marketers – as a training team first and foremost.

The first area was the way its rep team sold the products to staff in terms of what they can do for a potential customer. One judge said: ‘The team is excellent at bringing the specs to life. It’s very simple, very basic but it is very important. The whole team is briefed like that. They don’t stand there and talk about quad-core processors. They focus on things like the camera and how it is able to change people’s lives.’

The second is how they familiarise retail staff with their new handsets, well before they hit the market. Reps hit retail stores weeks and months ahead of launch, allowing staff to play with the phones, test out new features and ask questions. One judge said: ‘This is really important. You have to do that these days if you want to have a successful launch with staff on board.’

HTC’s success has led to dramatic growth in the field marketing team. It now has 26 trainers across the UK and Ireland, double its number from a year ago. They film training videos, coach retail staff, and embark on product testing. The success of the UK team has seen it sharing tips and tricks with other HTC operations worldwide. Greater staff numbers mean the team can react quicker to changes on the high street. But ultimately it was its relationships with the frontline sellers that clinched the award for HTC.

One judge concluded: ‘Reps need to fit in with a retailer’s ethos. A rep who shoots down phones from other companies is not going to work. Staff like HTC reps, not because they will get something out of them, but because they get on well with the team and HTC has phones with great features.’

Shortlist

  • HTC
  • LG
  • Motorola
  • RIM
  • Samsung
  • Sony

Runners up - Vodafone and Three

Phones 4u narrowly missed out on the top prize last year but it has bounced back spectacularly and was a popular choice among the judging panel. One judge said: ‘For me, it wins because of four things. Performance, innovation, exclusives, and heart.’ Another added: ‘It has come on miles during the past couple of years. Phones 4u understands consumers and that’s crucial if you want to be the best retailer.’

The panel agreed that if you were a phone manufacturer seeking to make a splash with a new handset, Phones 4u was the retailer to approach. It secured a string of exclusives over the past 12 months, including launching the HTC Sensation XE handset in late 2011.

It boasts a high smartphone penetration and its long-standing focus on early adopters means it can help make or break a device. One judge said: ‘It is the device manufacturers’ friend. It launches devices and moves onto the next one.’

But it has also listened to its customers. The judges noted how Phones 4u has moved away from the hyper-aggressive model of old and become a lot more conversational in its approach. The retailer said its sales pitch is more relaxed and based on listening to a customer’s needs to put the right handset in their hands.

Flexibility is key for the retailer and is reflected in its recently launched Jump tariff. Standing for ‘Just Update My Phone’, Jump allows customers to upgrade their device every six months by splitting the costs for the airtime contract and the handset.

Another instance in which it listened and then launched is with its 4u WiFi service.

The offer came out of conversations with customers last year, who were either concerned about data use or on prepay but wanted internet access on their phones. It launched in November and now has more than 50,000 registered users.

The judges felt the company’s social media strategy was much more evolved than its rivals and something that is fully integrated with its overall strategy. It has more than 450,000 ‘Likes’ on Facebook and over 9,000 Twitter followers, with the account also dealing with queries and complaints.

Contrary to the wider challenges on the high street, Phones 4u is looking to expand. Its retail portfolio grew by 84 stores during the past 12 months, with almost 500 new jobs created. The company said it had invested £2m in staff training and development and feels its workers are choosing to vote with their feet in the right way, with staff turnover significantly reduced.

This faith and investment in its staff, along with its flexibility to cope with the changing market, singled it out as the leading retailer in its field. One judge said: ‘It’s clean, ambitious, well organised and aggressive. It is the best equipped retailer to cope with the coming changes in the market.’

Shortlist

  • Carphone Warehouse
  • O2
  • Phones 4u
  • Three
  • Vodafone

Runners up - Apple and Sony Mobile Communications

Samsung’s strength in depth ensured it was the runaway winner in this category. As one judge put it: ‘Samsung’s success has come from a family of products, not just the Galaxy S II.’

It’s been an excellent year for the company, with its share of the smartphone market surging from 6% a year ago to 28% in 2012. The breadth of its portfolio impressed the panel and is the envy of its market rivals. While it was the eye-catching Galaxy S II and latterly the Galaxy S III that captured all the headlines and plaudits, the judges were just as impressed by entry-level handsets like the Galaxy Y that drive sales in the prepay market. One of the judges identified Samsung’s focus on the entry-level market as a smart strategy for building brand loyalty. He said: ‘There’s a family of products there with the hope Samsung customers will upgrade to another Samsung product up the chain.’

Another judge added: ‘Samsung has developed products across a broad spectrum. It has very exciting products even lower down the scale and is looking to introduce more affordable devices. It’s a company that makes big ballsy decisions and it spends rather than sits on its money.’

Samsung’s surging growth has seen it emerge as the main challenger to Apple’s smartphone supremacy. Its bestselling Galaxy S II smartphone went toe to toe with Apple’s flagship device and came out on top. One judge noted: ‘Samsung has the money and power to take on Apple, as well as the breadth of product. Everything Samsung has done is based on consistency and it has pushed that onto customers.’

The Korean manufacturer also hit a number of hugely impressive milestones this year, recently overtaking Nokia as the world’s largest manufacturer by shipments. It shipped 300 million handsets in 2011, with the Galaxy S II becoming the fastest selling device in the company’s history in September when it passed the 10 million sales mark. The Galaxy Note, which is quietly gaining momentum in the UK, has sold more than five million devices worldwide. An impressive statistic, given the unique form factor of the ‘phablet’.

And the company shows no sign of slowing down. It will be at the forefront of this summer’s London Olympic Games and has secured a string of high profile sponsorship deals. Its glitzy launch of the Galaxy S III in London was on the scale of Apple’s product launches and served as another reminder of the effectiveness of Samsung’s marketing.

The eagerly anticipated Galaxy S III throws down a marker for the next 12 months, with the device set to dominate the top end of the chart, if pre-order excitement is anything to go by. The panel felt the Korean manufacturer would carry its momentum well into 2013. One judge concluded: ‘It’s a business that has multiple devices out there and great devices all the way through its portfolio. If you look at the criteria, there’s no question who should be number one.’

Shortlist

  • Apple
  • HTC
  • Nokia
  • Samsung
  • Sony Mobile Communications

Runners up - Vodafone and Three

The competition in the Best Network category is always fierce and this year was no different. The judging panel spent longer deliberating and weighing up the merits of each network than they did with any other category. The panel said it was a tough, and close, decision but felt O2 fully merited the Best Network award ahead of last year’s winner Vodafone.

The judges said the operator had scored consistently higher than its rivals across each of the criteria. One said: ‘If you look at everything O2 does in the marketplace, it is ahead of its rivals.’

The operator’s wide ranging innovations and new products impressed the panel. The Priority Moments rewards promotion has given customers access to more than 1,900 offers from over 230 brands since it launched last year.

It recently launched its mobile payments service, the O2 Wallet, and continues to work on its O2 Health services for the healthcare sector. One judge said: ‘It’s coming up with continuing innovations to keep customers interested. Its Gurus are excellent and I’m also impressed with the Think Big initiative and how the operator uses it to connect with its community.’

O2 also innovated in the business space, launching the Joined Up People service in November to promote flexible working among customers. Its Joined Up Business platform provides a one-stop shop for IT and communications, and it continued to build on its O2 Unify service that provides end-to-end ICT capability for larger organisations.

The judges pointed out that O2 had one low score it could be proud of – the number of customer complaints. The network has consistently had fewer complaints to Ofcom than its rivals. ‘If O2’s scores are always so low, it must be doing something right,’ noted one judge, with the panel also pointing to its high retention rates.

The judges also felt it had learned from its problems with data from several years back by investing the equivalent of £1.5m per day in improving its network. One judge said: ‘O2 has been ironing out the flaws. Networks are investing to get over the data meltdown. There have been a couple of glitches but it is nothing like it was.’

One key consideration for our panel in this category was how each network presented itself to customers. One said: ‘O2 has certainly grabbed the imagination in terms of marketing. It has had impressive work with the O2 Arena, as well as big activities in the consumer and b2b spaces.’ The panel praised its warm and personable public image. One judge concluded: ‘A key thing here is consumer perception and O2’s advertising is winning the battle among consumers. It is communicating really effectively and winning hearts and minds.’

Shortlist

  • O2
  • Orange
  • T-Mobile
  • Three
  • Vodafone

Runners up - Amy Astill (O2) and Paul McComb (O2)

This year’s Shop Idol judges had a job on their hands to pick a winner. Contestants from across the country bowled them over with their big personalities, sales ability and dedication to the industry.

The contestants this year were a great balance of sales and customer service. This came across right from the mystery shop stage, through regionals heats and at the final in London just last month.

The panel did not take this decision lightly, as each of the six finalists represented their companies with integrity and determination. However, it was Phones 4u’s Nicola Black who won the day in the eyes of the panel.

She started with Phones 4u in 2008 as a part-timer but has been in the mobile industry for over a decade. One of the highest scorers of the competition at the regional stage, Nicola built on her successes and during the final she put across some of the passion she has for her work and Phones 4u.

What the judges really appreciated about Nicola was just how much she raised her game from one stage to the next. She seemed to flourish in the Grand Final and everyone on the panel was bowled over by her attitude and work ethic. She was knowledgeable about products and showed a lot of pride in her store and Phones 4u as a brand, but she also had that all-important star quality that marked her out as a true Shop Idol.

One panellist said Nicola is ‘the embodiment of the change that Phones 4u is inspiring in its business’, while others praised her directness, honesty and friendly manner. Nicola has spent the last few years getting as much experience under her belt as possible and she’s now in a management programme – hungry to prove herself as a leader.

Mother to 10-year-old Erin, Nicola came across as a tower of strength who wanted to succeed in work and inspire her daughter through her example. As this year’s Shop Idol, the panel was sure that both Erin and her bosses at Phones 4u would be proud of the hardworking and driven woman Nicola proved herself to be.

Shortlist

  • Amy Astill
  • Nicola Black
  • Jennifer Doran McNeill
  • Danny Edwards
  • Paul McComb
  • Stephen Weir

Samsung's UK chief tops the Power 50 list for 2012

Simon Stanford was the first name on the lips of most of the industry’s senior figures when Mobile asked who they felt were the most powerful players in the trade. Given that the past 12 months have been dominated by the Galaxy S II, it comes as no real surprise. Retailers and operators were cheered by the fact that there was finally a must-have device that could go toe to toe with the iPhone, and its success in the UK market has been driven by Stanford’s strategy.

Operators and retailers alike spoke admiringly of Stanford’s hunger and determination for the Galaxy portfolio to succeed in the UK. Stanford’s background, having worked at T-Mobile, Orange and O2 before he joined Samsung, has also helped the manufacturer build strong relationships with UK networks. One operator said: ‘He is very flexible to work with and always prominent in the industry. He understands customers and is flexible in thinking his way around a problem. He’s great at working with key operator and retail customers.’

If you need further evidence of Stanford’s influence, look no further than the numbers. A year ago, Samsung had a 6% share of the UK smartphone market. It now sits at 28% and will probably be swelled further by the Galaxy S III, whose launch last month was as keenly anticipated as any of Apple’s devices.

While the flagship Galaxy S II received plaudits worldwide, rivals and partners agree that Stanford did not have an easy task when the device launched in the UK. Another operator said: ‘Samsung has great products and great research and development but it comes down to execution and relationships and that’s purely Simon’s doing.’

Shortlist

  • Phil Dobson
  • David Dyson
  • Ed Richards
  • Olaf Swantee
  • Simon Stanford

Runners up - Tesco Mobile and Lycamobile

The Best MVNO award led to a lively discussion, with the panel debating what purpose an MVNO should serve.

While the judges praised Tesco for its ‘compelling marketing and powerful brand’, they ultimately felt that giffgaff was the strongest MVNO of the year. One said: ‘You have to offer something different in this area, otherwise what is the point?’

The panel agreed it was giffgaff’s marketing and innovation that made it stand out over the past 12 months. The MVNO uses its members as its customer service, marketing and member acquisition teams.

It claims customers receive much shorter response times from other members compared to more conventional operators. Its members can also submit suggestions to an ideas forum, which are then discussed with the company’s CEO. Hundreds of member suggestions have been implemented since giffgaff launched in 2009.

Members are rewarded through tariffs and the Payback scheme, which offers cashback, airtime credit or a charity donation in return for friends activating Sims.

One judge enthused: ‘It’s new, different and will work. I’ve been impressed by how community-oriented it has been. In terms of marketing and how it has taken a risk, it deserves 10 out of 10.’

Ultimately, it was daring to be different that singled out giffgaff as one to watch in the MVNO space. One judge said: ‘Giffgaff has used a network as a wholesale provider to do something innovative in the space. The rest of the industry is looking at them.’

Shortlist

  • giffgaff 
  • Lycamobile
  • Tesco Mobile