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The future of phone suppliers

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Last week, Phones 4U, once a mobile phone supplying giant, broke down overnight following network providers EE and Vodafone’s sudden decision to stop renewing their contracts. Now mobile phone retailing is changing, with a focus on direct customer relationship management.

Vodafone had said it was told by Phones 4U management that the retailer “had a number of alternative strategies in place if we couldn’t reach an agreement with them”.

These strategies failed to materialise when rival Carphone Warehouse proceeded with its merger with Dixons Retail.

Now Vodafone has acquired 140 Phones 4U stores which has coincided with the plans it revealed in April to increase its store estate by 150.

The network giants’ decisions to cut all ties with the mobile phone supplier has sparked controversy, so much so that John Caudwell, founder of Phones 4U, has called for an investigation into the matter.

While there is no sign yet of a government investigation, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) has made a statement implying it is siding with the operators.

A BIS spokeswoman said: “Retail is a rapidly changing sector and this commercial decision reflects the ways in which network operators have been seeking to maximise their influence with customers.”

Vodafone hit back at the retailer and its management’s handling of the situation, blaming the failure to negotiate on Phones 4U and its “little commercial flexibility due to their debt repayment options”.

The demise of Phones 4U frustrated thousands of customers who pre-ordered the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6. Despite promising refunds to those who placed pre-order for the new apple products, the collapsed mobile phone retailer has now admitted no refunds will be offered to those that paid upfront for an iPhone 6 or iPhone 6 Plus.

Instead, an e-mail was sent out to all those affected, encouraging them their credit card provider, who may be able to reverse charges at their discretion.

In light of this, is it time for Apple to consider launching its own network? With iPhones being sold every minute, it is no surprise that analysts have predicted it in the past.

In 2012, Whitey Bluestein, US based strategic advisory services spoke out on the possibility saying:

“Apple has the distribution channels, digital content portfolio and customer base to make the move and it also has more than 250 million credit cards on file for iTunes users who could be billed directly for wireless service.”

Over two years later, there has not been any further news however the American multinational corporation most definitely, like always, has something new and exciting up their sleeves and all will be revealed when they see fitting.

Published on Friday 26 September by Editorial Assistant

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