4/28/2009 12:54:00 PM
Vodafone drafts in Vik Patel to lead group handset buying
Vodafone has appointed former O2 UK handset chief Vik Patel to lead its group portfolio management team.
Patel will start next week in a wide-ranging brief covering consumer and business devices, as well as leading any bespoke own-brand devices, which Vodafone has previously stated it is keen to develop with low cost Chinese partners such as Huawei and ZTE.
Patel, who was also previously European handset chief for Motorola after working for O2, arrives after Vodafone began centralising more of its handset buying from Luxembourg in a bid to cut costs, as was reported by Mobile in February 2008.
The UK buying team run by Chris Edwards is still understood to maintain some degree of autonomy, but Vodafone is believed to be looking to become more effective at leveraging its group power from the scale of buying an estimated 60 million devices per year.
Former group handset chief Jens Shulte-Bockum recently replaced incoming UK CEO Guy Laurence to become the new CEO of Vodafone Netherlands.
Vodafone, like other operators, recently told manufacturers in the UK that it wants to work with fewer manufacturers and with a smaller range of handsets. The move appears to have driven better deals by placing larger orders, and cut down on wastage from managing a broad portfolio and inventory of devices.
Vodafone is expected to spearhead smaller ranges but pursue more exclusive ‘breakthrough’ handsets this year, starting with the HTC Magic on Google Android set for the coming weeks.
Vodafone was unavailable for comment as the story went to press.