Mobile Industry Awards
Mobile Industry Awards

2013 Winners

Olaf Swantee has thrown himself into transforming Britain’s biggest operator, and because that change has come from the top down he was the overwhelming choice for Person of the Year. Insiders talk of a demanding yet visionary leader, who sets tight deadlines and high targets but gives the support teams need to implement results.His drive resulted in EE trumping its rivals to launch 4G months ahead of the competition, dismissing the Everything Everywhere brand by launching EE and sweeping the names of Orange and T-Mobile from shopfronts overnight. Then there’s reorganising its customer service teams, launching a new marketing campaign, rearranging its sponsorship focus... the list goes on.But it is on 4G that Swantee impressed the most. Launching the next generation service early caused so much anger that it looked at one point like the whole spectrum auction would be derailed by a trip to the courtroom. It could be argued that Swantee’s gamble actually sped up the process, with operators ultimately choosing to work together and introduce their next generation services quicker than previously planned. While Swantee has been criticised for the high pricing and low data allowances of its 4G offering, he could be cannily playing the longer game by not revealing EE’s true 4G plans until its rivals hit the market. And lowballing on 4G would damage margins, a crucial thing to watch ahead of an expected flotation later this year.The EE of 2013 is light years away from the flabby basket case of yesteryear and that has been down to Swantee’s vision and drive.

Shortlist:
Simon Stanford, Vice-President IT and Mobile, Samsung UK and Ireland
Scott Hooton, Chief Commercial Officer, Phones 4u
David Dyson, CEO, Three
Andrew Harrison, CEO, Carphone Warehouse. 


This year’s Shop Idol is Martin from Carphone Warehouse in Stirling. Consistently the strongest candidate for product knowledge, Martin demonstrated his dedication to customer service, zeal for his company and infectious energy to the judges. A University of Strathclyde physics graduate, Martin proved to be a gutsy sales person who always puts his customers first, going above and beyond the call of duty to offer them the best service possible. Martin has six years’ experience at Carphone Warehouse and an excellent sales record; he brought his previous store in Braehead into the top 15 in the company and his customer-focused approach means he isn’t just going for margins; he is drawing people back to his store. What came across at every stage of the competition was his strength of character and great personality. He had self-belief tempered with an unassuming nature that clearly keeps him well-grounded in the face of his success. The judges saw a shift in Martin from regionals going into the final. He always wanted to make Carphone Warehouse proud, but he came back with an even greater hunger to win for himself and make an impact on the company he believes in so strongly. Martin is Shop Idol 2013 because of his dedication to his store, passion and commitment to the industry. 


Phones 4u has showed consistent success in a changing market, boasting over £1bn in revenue for the retail business, 73.2% growth in online and a record number of exclusive devices secured across 2012 and into 2013.Where the Jump tariff led, the industry has followed, with Vodafone Red Hot and O2’s Refresh propositions responding to the challenge. Phones 4u also showed that it has listened to its customers by launching Phones 4u Care, currently with a take-up rate of over 60% and with an expected one milion customers by the end of this year.A £2.5m investment in its people over the last year has seen staff turnover reduced by 45%, with three out of four Phones 4u staffers saying they were proud to work for the company. On top of that 100 new stores were opened, creating 2,829 jobs in tough economic times.Brand awareness and customer satisfaction are also up, with NPS scores taken after 30 days rising from (51% to 54%) and an increasing number of customers coming back to Phones 4u for their upgrades.‘Phones 4u is one of the most instantly recognisable and lively brands on the high street, and it has been on a journey over the last few years,’ said one judge. ‘This is the right time for it.’ Last year’s success was an obvious source of pride for the retailer and its continued investment in retail estate, staff, innovations in service and well-targeted marketing make Phones 4u the best retailer on the high street yet again.

Shortlist:
Carphone Warehouse 
Phones 4u 
Three
Vodafone

The tablet market has undeniably been dominated by the iPad since its launch back in 2010, with Samsung the nearest rival in terms of sales. While the iPad mini was a contender for this year’s prize, thanks to its elegant design and portability factor, this is Sony’s year with the outstanding Xperia Tablet Z. Thinner even than the Xperia Z smartphone and just as water and dust-proof, the Xperia Tablet Z was the device the entire panel came back to time and again throughout the deliberations. The wow factor was there from its eight-megapixel rear-facing camera and 10-inch 1080p display through to its quad-core Snapdragon S4 Pro CPU and glorious design. ‘The Sony Xperia Tablet Z is simply beautiful and it’s going to make a huge impact on the brand,’ said one judge. ‘This is the first tablet device to take on the iPad as an aspirational piece of hardware.’The panel felt Sony had the content and infrastructure to make the Xperia Tablet Z a media powerhouse that could very well take the crown from Apple in the tablet space.


Shortlist:
Apple iPad mini 
Google Nexus 10 by Samsung
Google Nexus 7 by Asus 
Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0 
Sony Xperia Tablet Z 


 

When choosing this year’s winner the panel wanted to identify the phone with ‘that intangible quality’ which made it an essential gadget. The question was which of the impressive shortlisted handsets had true wow factor? During the discussion it was clear that the HTC One was the phone the panel found the most exciting. The judges felt the manufacturer had reached new heights with the HTC One’s hardware. They felt its striking look would turn heads and win over new fans.As well as the outstanding form factor and HTC’s signature Sense 5.0 user interface, the brand was also building successfully on its reputation for exemplary sound quality with dual frontal BoomSound speakers. And in an industry where less is not perceived to be more, the four-megapixel UltraPixel camera was also a bold move. The f2.0 aperture lens got results and showed both the industry and the consumer that the quality of technology is what matters. One judge said: ‘The HTC One is a massively inventive device that will inspire people to buy. It’s a brilliant piece of design and most importantly it has got people talking.’

 

Shortlist:
BlackBerry Q10
HTC One
Huawei Ascend P2
Nokia Lumia 720
Samsung Galaxy S4
Sony Xperia Z 

The judges were taken with Alternative Networks’ passion for technology and commitment to helping its customers change their businesses for the better. 2012 saw the company stay financially strong with operating profits increasing 5% to £15.3m and enhanced shareholder returns with a 15% increase in dividends.Alternative’s dynamic service interface ‘Synapse’ has proved to be its secret weapon in retaining its customer base, by helping clients manage their business communications better. It allows clients to manage their entire estate in real time with 95% of requests processed within 24 hours and consistent scoring of 95% in CSAT surveys. Synapse has seen a £1m investment in the last year and in that time usage has doubled. On average clients are signing up for an impressive 3.7 products and client churn is down 4%, so Alternative Networks’ management and passion for exemplary service is paying off. One judge remarked: ‘Alternative is the most incredible partner in this space that there is. It has been inquisitive and selective in their approach, professional and its investment in client support is quite brilliant.’

Shortlist:
Alternative Networks
Communicate Better
Evolve Telecom
The One Point
Uplands

Samsung demonstrated its passion for retail through its support and excellent in-store training to the judging panel. It created unique ‘Shop in Shop’ experience zones to stand out from its competitors, as well as retail bays that showcased the complete Samsung mobile offerings in a premium fixture.Samsung provided 400 promoters to its channel partners to ensure store staff understood the products and their specifications which significantly increased the NPS of both Samsung and its channel partners. The judges approved of the Samsung Backstage training portal, which trains more than 50,000 retail and call centre staff allowing them to learn in a fun and innovative way, in line with Samsung’s brand personality. One panellist went so far as to describe the Samsung reps as ‘becoming an extension of my store’.Samsung’s approach focused on getting across innovation, capturing hearts and minds and forging strong relationships with each store.The judges felt Samsung was not just trying to train staff, but trying to become a big part of the retail story by showing diligence over and above others. Its ability to adapt to a challenging market prompted one judge to dub the manufacturer the ‘restless warrior’ of the industry.


Shortlist:
BlackBerry
HTC
LG
Microsoft Windows Phone
Nokia
Samsung
Sony


Coverage issues are the number one frustration for customers. Metricell has developed an innovative suite of services to help operators see exactly how their network is performing from the end user’s perspective. MyCoverageChecker is a neat innovation, allowing operators to see when a user has suffered a problem, and pinpoint the type and location, then pass it through to customer services, engineers and decision makers. Having a support rep see records of the problem experienced must help in dealing with customer queries.

Shortlist:
BlackBerry Enterprise Service 10
Lifestyle Services Group
Metricell


The panel was impressed with Talk Direct’s ambition, and the ability to make its voice heard in the local community. ‘Talk Direct clearly has great ambition. Opening a flagship store in the deprived area of Dewsbury was a bold move, and it’s good to see the local community benefiting from free mobile training. ‘Enlisting a soap star to open another key store is further evidence of its confident touch. A good franchisee will work with the assets of the parent brand, but bring innovation, commitment and a strong local presence to the party. Talk Direct is certainly doing these things. It’s a good marriage.’

Shortlist:
Communications Plus Ltd T/A O2
Talk Direct Ltd T/A O2
Two Murrays Ltd T/A Go Mobile

The MVNO market has seen plenty of growth in recent years, giving the consumer both flexibility and value. Winner Lebara stood out as the company offering customers something unique. The judges praised its distinct marketing, savvy targeting of the international call market and value for money. ‘Lebara is what an MVNO should be,’ remarked one judge. ‘It has identified a niche and is doing cool, fun things within that space.’With two million new active mobile customers – an increase of over 24% – Lebara has shown it can respond to the needs of its consumer base with new products such as the Lebara Money worldwide transfer service and bespoke Tourist Packs, as well as boasting exclusive partnerships with Carphone Warehouse, Phones 4u, Tesco, Asda and WH Smith. The Lebara Unlimited proposition helped raise the brand’s profile and made competitors take note, driving ARPU to record highs in November 2012 – an increase of more than 28%. During the 2012 Olympics Lebara even provided a free service to all the athletes and staff in the Olympic Village looking to call home. The panel felt that Lebara was the most innovative and distinct MVNO brand on the shortlist with a clear offering, great value services that captured its audience, and showed the company knew exactly where to position itself in the channel.

Shortlist:
Gamma 
Lebara 
Tesco Mobile
Virgin

The judges admired Daisy Distribution’s commercial success, which saw revenues up 18% to £45m and gross margin up 21% to £8.9m.In terms of base performance, Daisy hit almost 80,000 annual connections and an overall base growth of 6%. Customer service came across as key to Daisy’s operation and 83% of its partners gave it a rating of 8/10 or higher. Churn was under 13.5% and 2012 saw Daisy broker its biggest connection agreement with 850 new O2 BlackBerry connections made with trade union Unite. The company has even seen convergence within the unified comms space, with positive growth forecast for 2013. One judge said: ‘Daisy has shown us a very clear picture of its business. It has the know-how and stats to back it up.’

Shortlist:
Avenir Telecom
Daisy Group
Data Select
Ingram Micro Mobility
Mainline Digital
Micro-P

In 2012, Micro-P distributed more than 1.2 million accessories, increasing turnover by 121%, and it was very clear to the judging panel that it stood for sheer logistical perfection and attention to detail.  Year on year mobile business revenue has increased and in 2012 the company won contracts with high profile brands such as John Lewis, Apple, EE, Carphone Warehouse and Phones 4u. The judges believed that Micro-P’s accessories portfolio showed diversity of design and price point and also displayed its ability to develop brands as well as its own ranges. The panel found Micro-P to be reliable and clear in its processes, and showing a deft hand at supporting its ranges with well-targeted marketing. ‘Micro-P is absolutely solid,’ said one judge. ‘It has a great mix of innovation and delivery and has shown alot of that growth in its processes and relationships.’


Shortlist:
Activ8
Avenir Accessories
Frequency Telecom
Genuine Solutions
Micro-P

The Samsung Galaxy S III was the dominant phone of the last year, with worldwide sales of over 50 million units creating buzz on an unprecedented scale. Building on the success of the S II, Samsung threw everything in terms of elegant design, build quality, features and power into the mix when producing this truly world-class handset. The larger 4.8-inch screen, quad-core processing power and outstanding Samsung features such as Pop-Up Play and S Voice made it a unique and striking phone and a must-have gadget. The panel felt the device created excitement, generated record-breaking sales and left its mark on the consumer’s imagination.‘The jump from the S II to the S III is a remarkable one,’ said one judge. ‘It’s the first phone that turned Apple on its head; it transformed Samsung and propelled the Android operating system even further.’Samsung’s LTE-enabled version of the handset has future-proofed the device for the oncoming 4G revolution and its successor, the Samsung Galaxy S 4, has already broken through the 10 million sales mark, smashing previous records. The judges felt the S III was a revolutionary phone for Samsung, raising its game as a manufacturer.  

Shortlist:
Apple iPhone 5
LG Nexus 4
Samsung Galaxy Note II
Samsung Galaxy S III
Sony Xperia Z

While perhaps a little too early to make an impact on the average consumer, the judges believed that EE’s new 4G network was built for the business sector. This brand new network launched in October 2012 across 11 cities, and 4GEE is now live in 50 towns and cities across the UK. Its large data allowances at speeds up to five times faster than 3G, 30-day free trial offers for small businesses and dedicated account management teams have all contributed towards making 4GEE an enticing proposition. However, the judges were perhaps most impressed with the innovation on offer and how well that message had been communicated to the business community. ‘Word is getting out that EE is the network for business, where price isn’t as much of a deciding factor as the quality of the service,’ remarked one judge. Last year was a transitional time for the brand as Orange and T-Mobile customers began to migrate to 4G and by the end of the year more than 10% of corporate customers were either trialing or using 4GEE. The consensus was that EE had done a great job communicating the benefits of 4G to businesses, where the need for flexible working, video conferencing and instant access to email, however large the attachment, is felt most keenly.

Shortlist:

EE
O2
Vodafone

When it came to choosing a winner, the panel had one clear objective: to assess the networks ‘through the consumer’s eyes.’ The prize had to go to the network offering the best possible service, coverage and price with a strong and engaging message that its customers could identify with. As the challenger brand, Three’s energy has translated into real impact on the consumer. More than 900,000 customers signed up last year, an increase of 11%, and monthly churn has decreased to just 1.5%. An estimated 43% of the UK’s mobile data is carried on its network thanks in no small part to their value-for-money, data-hungry tariffs. The ‘Silly Stuff. It Matters’ ad campaign featuring Socks the pony has had more than 6.5 million hits on YouTube to date, illustrating one judge’s sentiments that the brand had ‘grabbed customer imagination,’ marketing mobile internet perfectly by focusing on the limitless possibilities and fun of sharing content. October 2012 saw the beginning of the Ultrafast upgrade to the Three network and this year it will add 4G capability to its business. The combination of compelling marketing, competitive pricing and improvements to its service, with more on the horizon, makes Three this year’s winner.

 

Shortlist:

EE
O2
Three
Vodafone

There could be only one winner in the eyes of the judging panel. What continues to make Samsung the dominant force in the smartphone market today is an approach to technology that continues to show innovation and a handset range that appeals to all demographics. The ‘Galaxy’ moniker has stuck in the minds of the consumer, giving them an entry point into the broadest mobile product range on the market today, from its pocket-friendly, budget handsets, right up to its flagship devices.The Samsung Galaxy S III has achieved massive financial success, proving that Apple does not have to be the first and last word in smartphone innovation. On top of that there has also been an appetite for larger-screen devices driven by products such as the Galaxy Note, which has coined its own product category – the ‘phablet.’Perhaps not as impactful in the tablet space as Apple, the Galaxy Tablet range is the second largest in terms of market share behind the unstoppable juggernaut that is the iPad, with beautiful devices like the Note 10.1 standing out in particular. Samsung is leading the way in choice, ease of use and how its products sit within the device ecosystem. One panellist remarked: ‘Samsung has the range, marketing support and choice of operating systems to delight the consumer. It sets the benchmark for any manufacturer.’


Shortlist:
Apple
HTC
Huawei
Nokia
Samsung
Sony