A flurry of initiatives unveiled by Vodafone comes only days before the company reveals its 2010 interim statement where the focus is expected to centre upon margins. While the cynical observer might views these announcements as an attempt to deflect examination of the structural problems within Vodafone, others could see them as the company coming to grips with changes in the market.
Included among the new programmes are:
- a deal with TeleAtlas to enable LBS for routing and mapping applications for Vodafone subscribers around the world. The agreements will provide Vodafone with access to TeleAtlas' global digital map content and products, including 24 million 'points of interest', 3D landmarks, 2D city maps and digital elevation models. Also included are TeleAtlas Speed Profiles, which provide speed data to help users find optimal routes.
- Vodafone has launched a new M2M platform designed to support services including smart-metering, connected cars and remote equipment monitoring. The company said the new platform would also provide managed support services to allow Vodafone M2M customers to centrally activate, suspend and deactivate connected devices.
- The company has signed a non-equity partnership with Azerfon in Azerbaijan that will provide the local operator with access to Vodafone's range of products, services and devices. Azerfon is currently building its 3G network and will be able to tap into Vodafone's expertise in this area. This deal is similar to Vodafone's strategic partnership with Russian cellco MTS.
While Vodafone might be accused of putting up a smokescreen ahead of its results, most financial analysts are speculating there is only a small chance of an earnings downgrade. The areas of interest for market watchers will be Vodafone's performance in problem countries--notably Spain, the UK and Turkey. The stock market is starting to question how much of Vodafone's underperformance is cyclical and tied to the broader economy, and how much is structural and not easily reversible, such as its loss of market share.
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