Psst – wanna buy a handset? Only one old lady owner…
Britain’s second largest mobile operator, Vodafone, is to offer consumers secondhand smartphones in an unprecedented move to attract first time buyers. More than half of Brits have smartphones, one of the world’s highest rates, but Vodafone believes that by offering ‘refurbished’ phones it can tap into a yet unserved market.
It’s Nearly New scheme is being aimed at pay-as-you-go customers, allowing them to choose a used but securely wiped handset at any of the operator’s stores, though those already on contract will also be able to sign up.
Deals include a slightly used 8GB iPhone 4 for £250 compared to £319 for a new version, while contract customers will be able to choose from more recent handsets such as the Samsung Galaxy S III and HTC One X.
“Nearly New is designed to make it even more affordable for people, especially those who prefer pay-as-you-go services, to get their hands on a smartphone and start using the mobile internet,”said Vodafone in a statement.
“It is part of our ambition to get the internet into the hands of our customers.”
Behind the scenes, though, it’s thought that like other operators, Vodafone needs to respond more aggressively to smartphone pricing, especially when competitors like Google are offering a 8GB LG Nexus 4 for just £239, with no contract attached.
Moreover, with mobile data still in its growth phase – and achieving better revenues than traditional voice or SMS services – operators are now reappraising the pay-as-you-go market, discounting and, in the case of Vodafone, offering refurbished smartphones in a bid to increase adoption of mobile surfing among consumers otherwise content with their ordinary handsets.
Separately, it has emerged that Vodafone has “seriously considered” setting up its own retail bank as another money spinner.
In an interview with Britain’s Daily Telegraph, CEO Vittorio Colao said he had even obtained an Italian banking licence as pre-requisite, but subsequently ditched the idea because of the complexities.
But Vodafone still operates a simpler service, M-Pesa, in places such as Tanzania where around a quarter of the nation’s GDP is processed through it.
On a coincidental note, meanwhile, it was revealed only two days ago that Vodafone’s chief finance office, Andy Halford, has joined the board of UK retailer Marks & Spencer – which does have its own bank. Vodafone already has a mobile wallet partnership with Visa, using technology from Monitise which owns the Mobile Money Network and whose chairman is Sir Stuart Rose, the former boss of Marks & Spencer.