Vodafone Bullies Manufacturers Over TV

It seems Vodafone, the globes biggest network operator, has given handset manufacturers an ultimatum: don’t build television receivers into handsets or we won’t sell your products.

As technology improves and manufacturers are able to put mobile TV chips in their offerings, Vodafone are worried that DVB-H (Digital Video Broadcasting – Handheld) and T-DMB (Terrestrial Digital Media Broadcasting) will cut into their potential revenues. With Vodafone investing a lot of money in setting up their high-speed HSDPA network, they are looking to recoup costs with multimedia content such as live streaming TV but won’t be able to if handsets offer digital TV as standard.

Steve Harrop, technical architect for Vodafone’s mobile applications said “There is an obvious risk of disintermediation, and that’s a background business reason for us choosing this approach,”.

“At the end of the day we have 16 million customers in the UK and we decide which phones we are selling to them,” he warned.

Manufacturers, however, aren’t going to be so easily scared. A source said "Today’s fashion and technology conscious market look to purchase a handset rather than sign to a specific network. When a new phone is launched with exclusivity to a particular operator people will make the switch. Customers aren’t as loyal as Vodafone likes to think."

"If Vodafone want to remain on top when it comes to offering the most saught after phones, they’d do better than to dictate to the people setting the trends." he added.

In a further show of nonchalance, Motorola has announced a six-month technical trial using their end-to-end Mobile TV system in Hong Kong. The trial will run from September 2006 to March 2007 within Hong Kong’s Quarry Bay district and will include Motorola DVB-H enabled mobile devices.


Edited 28/09/06

Mobile Business Magazine apologises that the original headline of this article may have implied that Vodafone were guilty of ‘blackmail’. A PR source at Vodafone said that Vodafone have not yet been convicted of ‘blackmail’, but be sure though that should it happen we at Mobile Business will bring you the scoop.
Blackmail (v)  exert pressure on someone through threats
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