Saturation in the smartphone market is compelling mobile operators to seek out new methods of revenue generation. And, as we go to press, it’s looking increasingly likely that Vodafone will join forces with Sky to offer their services collectively. It’s a deal which makes sense for both parties. Vodafone’s content-focused 4G proposition was lauded in some quarters as the most eye-catching approach. This was owed in no small part to its relationship with the broadcaster in its Sky Sports Mobile offering.
With so much money in reserve - thanks to its Verizon Wireless sale in September - big things are expected of Vodafone in 2014. Despite its well documented wealth, a full acquisition seems unlikely at this point, and a partnership which tests the waters in the quad play market may be enough for now.
On the flipside, growing pressure on Sky from BT appears to have forced its hand somewhat. The telecoms operator signalled its intent by stealing some of its rival’s family silver in the form of Premier League and UEFA Champions League football matches. BT’s MVNO partnership with EE also gives the pair a semblance of a quad play proposition, and Vodafone, as well as Sky, may have felt compelled to take this reactive step.
To have a legitimate quad play service seems to be the Holy Grail for some operators. And, yes, there are advantages. If done properly it would provide customers with attractive perks; a one-stop-shop for all services and aftercare would, in theory, save time and effort for consumers, while bundling products and services together would almost defi nitely guarantee cost savings for the end user.
But there is no guarantee today’s thrifty and tech-hungry customers will take a complete package with just one operator. To tempt the British public to part with their hard earned cash the product has to be packaged appealingly. This inescapable point begs another question: what does a shift in focus to quad play mean for the independent retailers?
It’s unsure whether the third party big boys will view this as an opportunity or a threat, but you can bet your boots they will be watching this one with interest and concern. If Vodafone wants to continue relationships with Carphone Warehouse and Phones 4u then, happy days, they’ll have an enticing package on their shelves. But if the operator’s suggestions about a direct focus come to fruition, it may be the high street that feels the most negative effect of this relationship of convenience.