An open letter to Vodafone Group from New Zealand

Dear Vodafone Group

We don’t yet have the Kindle available in New Zealand, and I suspect that you are the folks to talk to.

You see I’m pretty sure the folks at Vodafone New Zealand would love us to have the Kindle down here – after all we surely rank ahead of East Timor and Zimbabwe in market size and ease of doing business.

However they are being unusually evasive about why we don’t have it yet. @VodafoneNZ is generally really responsive to our tweets, blog posts and media, but this time something is going on. Here’s a recent twitter stream, which follows a rambling blog post I wrote a few days back:

Me: Why is Kindle not in NZ? – question made Dave Farber’s IP list. answers so far: @vodafonenz’s fault.

NBR: RT @lancewiggs: Why is Kindle not in NZ? . Are @vodafonenz’s hands tied by @Vodafone_Group trying to do a worldwide deal? [NBR is the FT of New Zealand]

Me: Why is Kindle not in NZ? – are @vodafonenz’s hands tied by @Vodafone_Group trying to do a worldwide deal? Please stop screwing NZ

@vodafoneNZ @lancewiggs @TheNBR now you’re messing with my head. No news for You!

Me: Someone is blocking this – the question is who and why. How can Zimbabwe have the Kindle and not NZ?

@SteveBiddle: Somebody somewhere knows why we don’t have the Kindle. It would be nice to know the proper reason!

@vodafonenz: Someone knows. Locked him in the basement. No-one can hear him scream (although he does have reading material).

me: @vodafonenz that’s an evasion if I have ever heard one. So it must be your bosses in NZ or London

@vodafonenz: it’s a no comment.

I’m escalating this to Vodafone Group as I am guessing that Vodafone New Zealand is not in control here – that they do not have the power to settle with Amazon directly. It’s probably not because they are too small – after all Turks and Cacos got the Kindle – so my guess that the buck stops with Vodafone Group.

I understand that Kindle access in New Zealand is such a trivial amount of revenue for Vodafone Group, and that having the Kindle in Rwanda and not New Zealand is a remote issue for you. In fact I’m even struggling to get anybody to care about it in New Zealand – I guess we are all content to wait until Apple’s iPad comes out in June.

But the situation is a bit ridiculous – it has been months. My guess is that somewhere someone is slowing things up. It is probably way down the list of their priorities. Perhaps they are playing hardball with Amazon, or perhaps they are playing ball on annual leave? All I know is that we do not have an interim solution in New Zealand, and you are beginning to collectively look like fools.

So please Vodafone, please do this for us:

1: Sign an interim at least deal with Amazon to allow NZ to sell the Kindle. Make it happen within a week. Worry about a larger deal after that.


Oh – and while I have your attention, or in the vain and vague hope that someone from Vodafone Group HQ manages to read this – here is a suggested list of actions that you can take to rapidly improve your profitability. Really. Take the leap.

2: Reduce your international roaming charges for data to zero for roaming on the Vodafone network. Make the data charges the same as home charges and we will keep using data when we travel. We’d switch to Vodafone as all other carriers including you right now charge $10,000 to $30,000 per Gb. The effect will be like when you turned text on between networks – there is all this demand just waiting to be unleashed. You are the only company that can do this quickly and globally – just think of the competitive advantage you will have. But remember – when you implement this make it automatic – don’t screw your customers by making them sign up beforehand.

3: Fix the global roaming problem – so that we and people that call us get charged at our local rates for texts and calls, no matter where we are. Simply put – work out how to quickly give us the ability to get a local number on our existing account from our home country so that local friends can call us at local rates. That will stop the sim card shuffle, and get you a lot more of those high spending global travellers.

Note for both of these I mean to every country not just the EU, larger industrial countries or those affiliates you own 100%. We should be able to use our phones as if we are home in the UK, South Africa, France, USA, Mozambique and Chile.

4: Make sure we never get penalised for doing too much – Mandate charging at the same pro-rata rate (rather than penal rates) when we go over our limits for voice, data and texts. You want us to use as much of your services as possible, so make it easy for us.

5: Suck up to Apple – like it our not their iPhone and iPad are the future. Cut really great deals with them and make sure you back it up with excellent service. You are making a killing here in NZ despite a lousy 3G network for the iPhone in the rural areas.

6: Simplify your plans – Your plans, like everyone else’s, are complicated and we don’t understand them. That’s pretty deliberate I know, but why not make it easy? I think 3 plans is enough – don’t you?

7: Transform international calling – It’s over – Skype and the other VOIP players are offering close to free international calls. Join the club and charge us trivial amounts for international calls – to or from our phone. We’d all switch in a real hurry.

8: Fix your websites and billing systems – I’d start again really – it’s that bad. Make it easy for me to pay you as a first step.

9: Stop selling branded phones – Separate the phone and the plans in all countries – and give kickbacks for signing contracts in cash or monthly discounts rather than phones. Stop tweaking and crippling phones, and sell untouched phones that allow customers to download apps. You’ll save plenty of money in sourcing all of those phones and the suppliers will be able to sell more of each model.

10: Abandon all of your own mobile web sites – the idea is well out of date and you risk looking like AOL did clinging to a useless walled garden. They take time to set up and manage and ultimately you are offering a crippled service for unreasonable prices.

I guess that you have already thought of all of these, and I guess that people that work for you would love to see them as well. What we are looking for is leadership. Leadership within Vodafone and leadership for Vodafone to forge the path for the industry. We love using our phones – just help us do it even more.

thanks again


P.S. Some folks may like to add their comments below – please read them as well.

P.P.S. I suspect that some of the book and newspaper publishers are not that unhappy that the Kindle isn’t here. Well – books and newspapers are going digital and it’s better to join the party than be left with the legacy costs of printing.

Published by Lance Wiggs


19 replies on “An open letter to Vodafone Group from New Zealand”

  1. Absolutely agree Lance. Emailed Amazon with similar points late last year (Why is it available in Zimbabwe but not NZ). Received a PR spin doctor we can’t comment response…

    Too late for them anyway – will be getting a iPad when it’s available here…


  2. I agree with most of your points here, however……..

    RE: “You are making a killing here in NZ despite a lousy 3G network for the iPhone in the rural areas.”

    Vodafone have a great 900Mhz UMTS 3G Network actually & it provides excellent Rural coverage “if your phone supports 900Mhz UMTS.

    The iPhone drops down to GPRS, outside major cities/towns because it only supports 2100/850Mhz UMTS.

    Please explain how this is Vodafone’s fault?

    They don’t have control over what chips Apple decide to put in their phones, only Apple does – so you should direct this issue to them – not Vodafone.

    Finally – maybe the next incarnation of the iPhone will support Quadband UMTS – that remains to be seen in ? June 2010 when they release it.




    1. The comment was aimed at neither Vodafone nor Apple – it’s just how it is.

      How it is in practice is that my iPhone on Vodafone was simply unworkable outside of the main centers. Like the iPhone the iPad is also 850MHz – compounding the situation. and like it or not the iPhone and iPad are setting the standard.

      But yes – roll on the chipsets that support both.



  3. re point #8 Fix your websites and billing systems. My daughter recently switched from Vodafone to 2Degrees. One of her comments was how much she ‘enjoyed’ using the 2Degrees website. She said that using the Vodafone website was just too stressful. Gotta agree. The Vodafone website is just too busy, too slow, too much, and just pure overloaded. I hope some of the architects who designed the Voda site are ‘lurking’ on this blog: I can imagine all the corporate pressure you face, but really, your site is a mess. If a ‘digital native’ like my daughter gives you the thumbs down, there is something wrong. I suspect your ‘bounce’ rate tells you this, but the suits aren’t listening. Until it is too late…


  4. A US friend of mine bought me an International Kindle when he visited recently. It works perfectly over Vodafone NZ’s network.

    Web browsing is limited to a pre-configured set of sites (there’s supposed to be a circumvent this), & wireless delivery costs are expensive if you want to send your own content wirelessly (rather than for free via the USB cable). US$0.99 per Megabyte rounded up to the nearest megabyte.

    As well as books its a great tool for consuming by web-browsing bookmarked content from, but I’ll transfer via cable thanks.

    Looking forward to buying an iPad when they come out but the screen won’t be as good for reading books during the day as the eInk-based Kindle.

    I’m hoping Vodafone come up with a less expensive data plan to suit iPad users – fat chance I would guess.


  5. I love th rural coverage vodafone has, it’s better than telecom, granted i don;t have an iphone.

    would vodafone have done a deal with apple to be the exclusive ipod resellers in return for not supporting kindle. Which is in competition with the ipad?

    which most people i know seem to think of it as the kindle killer


  6. While you’re at it, you should probably request world peace and an end to hunger, and the secrets to warp drive and time travel, too.

    I think you’ve got about as much chance of getting them.


  7. I was told some time ago that around one third of all telecommunications costs is the billing system. So, instead of having computers churn through everything metering calls why not get rid of bills all together and offer two or three all-you-can eat plans?

    Vodafone can pocket some of the 33% percent saved from dumping billing systems and pass some on to the customer.

    If the average customer spend is, say, $70 a month, then offer an $40 a month unlimited national voice and text plan and add $40 for unlimited international calls (this may only work if you control the international pipes, but voip is not expensive). Maybe so much per 5GB for data on top of these amounts. You’ll make bigger profits, we’ll get a better deal.


  8. Why oh why does it cost me $46 to turn my iphone on in Sydney, check a map on Google maps and read two emails.

    And sure I can make calls in Australia at the same rate as in NZ. But in NZ I get 200 free minutes. I don’t know about anyone else, but I change SIM cards before I land in Sydney each time I come here.

    $10 a meg for data – you’ve got to be kidding.


    1. I agree, I am on a Vodafone plan and travel to Aust regularly. I have an Australian sim I put in and just leave a temporary greeting on my Kiwi phone. People email me if they need to or phone my Aussie phone in an emergency. Works for me. Cheers


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