Vodafone emerged as the winner in terms of overall reported customer numbers in the final quarter of 2007, racking up 488,000 customers between October and December – just 5,000 more than O2.
Over the whole of 2007, Vodafone won by a considerable margin, adding 1.5 million customers, compared with O2, which added 749,000.
O2 and T-Mobile posted their results this week, which leaves 3 as the only network yet to report its year-end results.
In the crucial contract market, O2 led the way with 276,000 additions with outgoing UK CEO and now group chief Matthew Key attributing its success to the halo effect from the iPhone. Orange had 202,000 additions, with its unlimited text packages seemingly popular. Vodafone only managed 137,000 additions, but still leads the market in terms of the number of contract customers it has on its base, with 7,286,000. T-Mobile trailed behind, losing 57,000 customers in the final quarter as other networks targeted Flext customers coming out of 18-month contracts.
With customer’s average spend being a major concern, O2 led the market with £24, Vodafone had £23, Orange had £22 and T-Mobile had £21.
The operators trumpeted different areas of strength, but all admitted that it was one of the most competitive trading periods many had ever seen, with every operator except for T-Mobile taking a hit on their margins.
Predictions of a harsher economic climate in 2008 has accelerated plans to cut costs and focus on retaining existing customers, rather than spending heavily on customer acquisitions and handset subsidies.