Mobile Industry Awards
Mobile Industry Awards
2014 Winners

Open to entries

This was probably the hardest decision of all the judging panels. Ultimately, Sony pipped rivals by a narrow margin winning the day on a majority vote.

One factor that definitely impressed the judging panel was that Sony not only produced a decent range of products, with
great quality, it was also a first class partner.

‘Sony is a better partner than the rest of the field. It is collaborative. It is still a work in progress, but it has come on a considerable distance this year,’ was the panel’s verdict.

 

EE was the judges’ unanimous choice because of its clear strategy and great delivery. ‘EE has been out to lead the market in terms of new technology. Coupled with that it has also been providing excellent value to the customer,’ said one of the judges.

EE continues to lead on 4G, with 70% market penetration. It has also ploughed £275m into call improvements, helping it to score well in the RootMetrics National RootScore Report, where it was ranked top for data, calls and texts. ‘It has got things right with tariffs and add- ons. Double Data is a great example,’ was another judge’s comment, while a third added: ‘As a network it has been innovative. In contrast to the launch, it has had a strong value offering with low-priced phones and routers.’

The judges felt the marketing and brand were also more cohesive: ‘EE has reinvented its brand, which is damn hard work, and has done it well.

The judges chose Lebara because of its strong financial performance, innovation and ability and desire to listen to its customers.

The MVNO claimed a 13 per cent increase in customers and recorded ARPU was up by 23 per cent. Worldwide, an amazing 1.3 billion minutes were consumed by Lebara customers. It also introduced a money transfer service, which judges said was ‘bang on’ for its target market. ‘Lebara Mobile continues to go from strength to strength. Its marketing is great.

It has a strong following wherever there is a large overseas population. It is very clever at targeting corridors of entry to the UK, from bus stops in Poland, to airports,’ said the judges. ‘It gives great value and has great customer service. It knows its customers through and through and is very good at marketing to them.’

HTC One (M7)

They say looks can kill, and the sleek design of the HTC One (M7) largely destroyed the competition. The judges agreed that the One’s plastic and aluminium construction simply oozed quality. But the One didn’t triumph because of good looks alone – beneath the gorgeous exterior lurks a powerful quad-core processor and Full HD screen.

‘The build quality is great and the look and feel is a real differentiator. We rarely get problems with HTC phones, and this product scores highest with our customers,’ said one panel member. ‘It held its own against two strong launches and would have outsold the Galaxy S4 if it had enjoyed the same level of marketing spend.’

The mobile industry is full of business people, but few visionaries. Carphone CEO Andrew Harrison combines both qualities.

Harrison has always been eager to push the boundaries. Over the years he has taken Carphone – and often the industry – into new areas from mass market mobile broadband to subsidised laptops and the connected home. In 2014 he is at it again, positioning Carphone to take a slice of the ‘digital life’ pie and steering it down new business avenues. And of course there is the small matter of the Dixons-Carphone merger – a piece of classic Carphone opportunism that has turned the tables on arch-rival Phones 4u and made Carphone the partner of choice for operators and manufacturers.

Harrison was a leading figure in the development of the merger talks. He had known Seb James, that was devised to advise other players, such as electrical retailers, supermarkets and manufacturers, on how to set up connected home retail operations with a mobile play.

Harrison ensured the division was supported with a strong spine of technology to enable delivery in different sectors and territories. Chief among these was the Honeybee needs analysis and recommendation system, which some say is the secret Dixons chief executive, for a number of years, and banter had gone back and forth about what the two organisations might achieve if they joined forces. But it was the success of a number of Harrison projects over the last year that paved the way for Carphone’s approach to Dixons and lent real shape to the ensuing talks. The approach came through the Connected World Services Division of Carphone – a Harrison brainchild

sauce in the mix. Honeybee can be adapted to a wide range of products and retail situations. It has been the enabler for the Samsung shops, and the Dixons store-within-a-store  format, not to mention Carphone’s own Pin Point retail system. The vision behind the Connected World division is the idea of developing Carphone into a services company selling know-how, and not just products.

According to sources, Harrison ‘has been instrumental in mapping out a future for Carphone that is broader than the UK, broader than mobile, and broader than retail’. The Dixons-Carphone merger has given real substance to those ideas. And with Harrison’s promotion to deputy CEO of the new group, he will have the chance to build on this foundation and take Carphone to a new level.

This year’s Shop Idol is John Sherwood from Digital Phone Company. Being a finalist last year did not deter John from coming back – in fact he felt he had to prove to the judges that he was the best at what he does, and he showed it in every aspect of the competition.

John consistently scored above and beyond all other contestants, be it product knowledge, role play or interviews and the judges could tell that he was a different person this year. John has been with the Digital Phone Company for four years and says his spare time is taken up ferrying his children to and from their after-school activities.

The father-of-three also enjoys playing football with the Veterans and coaching under-8s. John’s drive, charisma, enthusiasm, passion and charm floored the judges and with strong  Sales numbers from his store, it was obvious from the start of the Grand Final that he was head and shoulders above the rest in every aspect of retail.

Retail is not an easy place to be right now, with operators pushing to go direct on the one hand, and the very nature of retailing changing on the other. The judges felt that Carphone was making moves in the right direction. They liked the rollout of digital store formats and signage, although wryly noted that they as manufacturers were probably the ones paying for it!

‘The customer experience is the best of the independent stores. The company has been reinvigorated,’ said the judges. With Andrew Harrison and Sir Charles Dunstone more closely involved, the judges felt Carphone was reaping the benefits of first class leadership. They particularly liked Carphone’s mission to champion value for its customers, coupled with the roll out of its Pinpoint tariff recommendation system, which had improved consistency of service.

‘Carphone knows it needs to change, and its honesty is refreshing,’ said the judges. ‘It is making the right moves. The digital format is very interesting and will be much more efficient for it to communicate with consumers than simply screwing devices to a wall.’

Voice Mobile employs its own team of software writers, who have come up with an ingenious cradle-to-grave CRM, which makes every piece of information from sale to bills and customer support available at every point in the sales or after care process, including online.
A nifty feature is the ability to automate communications, like welcome letters, customer surveys and prospecting through email, letters or diarising call backs. ‘Truly impressive. Better than a lot of operators,’ was the judges’ assessment.

The CRM provides the backbone for a highly efficient business, which has seen profits grow nearly fivefold on the back of a 20% increase in the size of the base. The company is forging ahead in unified comms, writing bespoke software to link customers’ mobiles to their data hubs.
It has also been highly active in demonstrating 4G, and in developing M2M solutions, including a major health installation for a water company that fires off alerts to engineers when unsatisfactory bacteria levels are found. A complex salary sacrifice scheme for customers also caught the eye. ‘A fantastic company, and a very impressive range of achievements.

Recommendations and technology are driving sales. The only thing that could possibly hold it back is the name – they do so much more than voice!’ said the judges

EE made it a double by scooping Best Business Network as well as rating top for the consumer market. The judges said: ‘EE is the clear winner. EE has good customer service, it offers value for money and it innovated. It ticks all the boxes. 4G is arguably even more critical for business than for the consumer, and it is the best for that too.’

The judges liked the fact that EE supported all levels of the market, from the very large down to the local SoHo and SME customer. ‘EE has a clear twin strategy of supporting both ends of  the market. It has good propositions and strong marketing  messages for the smaller customers, and has backed that up with a quality network and innovation.’

This hybrid combining the best of a phone and a tablet was the runaway winner with the judges. ‘Nothing comes close to the Note 3, Samsung has got it spot on,’ said the judges.

‘It’s the perfect size and weight, and does so much more than any smartphone while nodding to tablet features. The Galaxy Note 3 looks good, feels great and performs like a beast,’ added one judge, ‘it’s simply the best phablet around by a longshot’. The judges agreed the Note 3 performs as good as it looks – running a powerful quad-core processor while being able to record 4K ultra HD video. The S-Pen is unique and easy to use – more than just a replacement for your finger. It has a broad appeal and caters to all types of users who love this device for very different reasons.

Crafted from aluminium and with a Full HD screen, the HTC One (M8) is a beautiful handset – and with a nifty dual-lens camera it’s capable of changing the focus of photos after they’ve been taken.

‘The (One) M7 was ahead of everything else in the industry – and the M8 is a good step on from that. It is a great continuation of HTC’s design language. If you show customers all of the phones we are considering, the M8 is the  one that makes them say, wow!’

Apple was once again the clear leader in the tablet market, though this time there were some great rival products from Sony and Samsung. There was still a choice to be made: between the slimmed down Apple Air and the portability of the mini – both with Retina displays.

Boasting the same 2048 x 1536 resolution as the iPad Air, the new mini has a higher pixel density, meaning images, text and films all look amazing, while Apple’s 64-bit A7
processor mean even the most demanding apps and 3D games are buttery smooth. ‘It’s just so portable, you don’t even know you have it in your bag.  The quality is amazing,’ said the judges.

Exertis Micro-P is a stocking distributor supplying a wide range of product across both horizontal and vertical markets. The company combines a robust supply chain
structure with dedicated product managers and buyers for each product area. The judges liked the analytical approach it takes, both to its own and to its partners businesses.

The judges said: ‘As a result of taking a good hard look at performance, Exertis Micro-P was  able to pinpoint the reasons for lacklustre performance on certain product lines and suggest very proactive remedies. More impressive still, those remedies worked.’

In 2013, it was contracted to supply  Exertis Micro-P accessories to key retailers including Apple, Amazon, Tesco, Dixons Group, Argos, Shop Direct, Asda, John Lewis, Selfridges and Staples. It grew performance in several cases  by 350-500%.

‘Exertis Micro-P also got into wearables early on, partnering Samsung, Jawbone and Sony Mobile. It is doing virtually everything  you would expect of a top accessories
distributor,’ said the judges. The company is growing fast and on course to double turnover to £60 million this year.

Samsung

Samsung has spent the last 12 months successfully building and maintaining the momentum from 2012 and 2013. It expanded its Shop in Shop and Galaxy Wall Bays across retail partners creating experience zones – offering consumers a unique Samsung in-store experience. The 180-strong store promoter team was deployed to its channel partners to ensure sales staff understood key products specs.

One panelist described his local Samsung rep saying: ‘it’s great to have him in-store helping my team’. The Samsung Galaxy Cup was created exclusively for retail and call centre staff via Samsung Backstage – the manufacturer online training portal. It became the largest free 5-a-side football tournament in the UK.
The national activation helped Samsung deliver brand advocacy across multiple channels strengthening the relationship between retail partners and Samsung. One judge praised the Samsung field marketing team’s efforts for 2013 by saying ‘it just keeps getting better and better’

The judges were impressed by the way Exertis Micro-P had handled the Nokia b2b account and successfully tried new ideas to make it a success in the last year.
‘Exertis Micro-P is a fast-paced innovative company that is pushing the boundaries in b2b distribution. It is leading the market and capitalising on the opportunities that comes its way,’ said judges. Conect programme – aiming to win over IT dealers to selling mobile – particularly caught the eye. ‘That Exerts Micro-P could be a game changer in convergence.

They are getting companies who never gave a thought about mobile a reason and a means to sell connections too.’ ‘They are always trying to find a way for their customers to compete with their rivals,’ said judges.

Telenomics was selected to take over six O2 stores on account of its strong previous performance.  It now has 17 stores and has improved all its KPIs, including footfall, conversion and revenue. 40 former O2 staff have been inducted into the company, and teams are more engaged, managed and empowered to deliver a great customer experience.

‘Franchising is often seen as the compromise option, where the parent brand extends its reach at the expense of quality. That is not the case with Telenomics,’ said the judges.

The company has grown by a third to £30m turnover, and has ambitious plans to hit £100m. ‘The company has been growing through a clear strategy and sound
processes,’ said the judges.

The need for web visitors to identify themselves – as they shop or join websites and communities – has never been greater.  The login with Facebook button is becoming ubiquitous, but growing almost as fast are web users’ concerns about the data they are sharing.

Ensygnia’s Onescan solution enables mobile payments online, in-store and on-the-go and also has applications for log- in, authentication and mobile identity. The service is in its early stages of roll out with several clients, but testimonials report that deployments could save retailers, ‘tens of millions of pounds. In the age of digital retailing, Onescan offers a means to join up the online, in store and mobile experiences. It is a taste of things to come,’ said judges.

UTL is a leading provider of services to the mobile sector and works with global brands including Apple, Vodafone, Three, Virgin and Samsung. It boasts a comprehensive range of services including repair, customisation, repair avoidance and diagnostics, 3PL services and field support.

UTL’s forward logistics capability is shown by the volume of work it undertakes, including shipping 40 million items a year and holding £500m. The judges were impressed by its ability to handle same day despatches up to 7pm. Vodafone has praised UTL’s mobile super-hub at the most cost effective repair centre in Europe, and Virgin Mobile has gone on record with praise for record-breaking levels of performance, which included cutting admissions to UTL’s repair centre by 40%.
‘This was a very thorough submission, backed up with a lot of data. It amounted to a case that was impossible to resist. UTL is a worthy winner,’ said the judges.

Product categories (not open to entries)

With the long list chosen by the Mobile team, the winner must not only showcase innovative, industry leading design, but also recognition from end users, success in retail and a legacy which furthers the brand itself.This category will be judged on a phone which is the best in class.

Widely seen as the one to watch, Hottest New Phone 2017 is the retailer’s choice and the device they’re depending on to drive sales and further the role of the mobile as the centre of a customer’s tech universe.

 

An intense year of progress in devices, AI and software brings the connected home closer than ever to mass consumer consciousness. But which device stands above all else as the flagbearer of this expanding eco-system?

Which device manufacturer has best utilised its products, market position and relationships to drive their overall strategy and reputation within the industry and beyond. The judges are looking for the device which meets the following requirements:

• Exciting products that have captivated consumers
• Innovations in design and features
• Balanced range of products
• Demonstrated market leading execution of sales and marketing
• Been a reliable partner for trade buyers in terms of forecasting, finance, returns and aftercare

Virtual Reality is a literal reality in one in 10 households after hundreds of thousands of UK shipments in the last year. Judged not just on experience, but also on the strength of the proposition itself, the best VR device is the one that cements consumer confidence, awareness and aspirations in the medium of 360 video and VR applications.

 

The judges are looking for the device which meets the following requirements:

• Under £200 in price
• Highest specifications for the price
• Best for usability
• Best for looks
• Best for features and services