Vodafone is losing share in three of its four main European markets according to the Swiss bank UBS, which has downgraded its rating of the mobile phone giant. The bank maintains that Vodafone's KPIs are likely to show deterioration across the board, with the European businesses seeing a revenue decline of 5.5 per cent.
To rectify this decline in market share, UBS believes that Vodafone will need to cut prices or increase promotional expenditure, with the latter flying in the face of management's stated aim of reducing the cost base.
However, Morgan Stanley is more upbeat, believing there is a reasonable chance that Vodafone's first quarter forms the low point of the current decline, or at least that the second quarter records a figure comparable to the first, with less negative quarters ahead.
Meanwhile, Vodafone has announced that it plans to dump its Live! brand after spending around €150 million promoting it since it was launched in 2002 across Europe. The company said it plans to replace Live! (which has 18 million UK subscribers) with an open and customisable mobile internet portal dubbed My Web that will be progressively deployed this summer in 11 international markets.
Simon Ryder, marketing planning manager at Vodafone, said, "We've proven via Vodafone Live that people love our services. It's about making them easier to use. Our subscribers say time is important to them and anything which increases efficiency is a good thing. They also say Live! is great but it would be better if they were able to personalise it more."
The shift forms part of the launch of the Vodafone Homescreen user interface, which also includes the launch of the Vodafone Apps Shop. This features around 60 apps from providers including AOL, BBC Sports, Time Out and Toptable. Vodafone aims to have 1,000 apps by October.
However, Stephen Cheliotis, chairman of UK Superbrands, said Vodafone is the UK's top mobile operator but is only 151st overall in this week's Superbrands Council survey. He welcomed the changes but questioned the need for a rebrand of the widely known Live! service. "Customers are increasingly savvy, sceptical and cynical, and a large number will question the benefit and costs associated with dropping the Vodafone Live! name," he said.
Vodafone tests iPhone portal, and could drop Google from Android
Study: Operator portals earn high marks from users
Vodafone Greece outsources entire mobile ad operation
Mobile ads 30x more effective than Internet banners, claims T-Mobile