VHA chief executive Nigel Dews yesterday said that the release of the iPhone 4 had not caused a rise in customer service complaints about reception issues for the company's Vodafone and 3 brands, and said the phone's glamorous launch party at the Ivy bar in Sydney had been well worth it.
Vodafone's iPhone party (Credit: VHA)
"iPhone customers complaints have always been low relative to average customer complaints on handsets," Dews told journalists in a results conference call for Hutchison, which has merged its Australian operations with those of Vodafone to form VHA. "It is still really early days, but you know — no — we have seen no spike in customer complaints."
Apple faced a great deal of consumer rage in the US due to issues with the iPhone 4's reception. But Dews said the problem hadn't appeared to hit customers down under.
"If anything, there has been some issues around delivery disappointment and what have you, given the relatively small numbers of those we have relative to demand," he said. "There is just an insatiable appetite for it. If there is any disappointment that's the area that's been."
The CEO rationalised that the ritzy iPhone 4 launch party held by Vodafone last week was necessary because the rest of the industry was involved.
"It is a big event. It's an industry wide and really important event. The iPhone and the latest model is a revolutionary handset and it's really important to mark what is an important occasion," he said.
Dews was asked if the hype and massive marketing effort was worth it in the end. "Yes it feels like it," he said. "We've had a terrific start to the iPhone 4 and we sold, you know, large numbers of those handsets, so you being a part of that and celebrating along with our customers has been a really important contributor to it."
The VHA CEO also noted that Android-based handset sales would be a lot stronger if the telco could get more of the devices. "A lot of the Android phones particularly — whether they are HTC or Samsung in particular — would be selling extremely well now if the supply volumes were there," he said.
"A big part of the non-iPhone smartphone issue is around supply and making sure there is enough of them there. And I think as vendors get more confident about their smartphone strategies we will start to see much more supply of those Android handsets come to market," he said.
Nokia even got a rare mention. "And we are seeing good strong sales of Nokia e71s — they have been a bit of a workhorse," the CEO said.
Dews stated that the strongest revenue sector at the moment was personal post-paid mobile plans and that the small and medium business sector was a small section of the portfolio. "We've got a good small business base but still relatively small penetration in the business sector — growth there is potentially huge," he said.