Vodafone, Phones 4U and LG take fight to Apple


Vodafone also announced its backing of Nokia’s Ovi internet music proposition with a range of 3G and HSDPA Nokia handsets, including some handset exclusives as part of the agreement.

Phones 4U is the exclusive independent retailer for Vodafone’s MusicStation, a track download service from UK company Omnifone. LG Mobile’s touchscreen Viewty handset, first pitched as a high-end imaging device, was unveiled as the launch handset for Phones 4U’s MusicStation marketing campaign.

LG Mobile sales and marketing director John Barton said the exposure will be a fillip to device sales, and make punters aware of its music functionality. He went on to dismiss the iPhone as limited in comparison to the Viewty.

Barton said: “The touchscreen element is clearly a reason for comparisons. But compared with the iPhone, the LG Viewty has a 5-megapixel camera; not a 2-megapixel camera. It’s HSDPA as well, instead of 2G.

“This campaign will make the Viewty an ubiquitous product – the best imaging device and the best music device on the market in one. It is easily the best of the handsets MusicStation will be available on.”

MusicStation is also available on 12 other handsets on the Vodafone network, via Phones 4U and Vodafone’s own retail stores. The number of compatible handsets will hit 30 by Christmas, including certain BlackBerry models. Barton said there will be four new handsets from LG suited to run MusicStation by the end of the year.

Phones 4U’s television, press, online and outdoor campaign focuses on the LG Viewty as the lead handset for its MusicStation tariffs, called MusicStation ‘Meal Deals’ (see box, right).
Vodafone is not offering the same MusicStation tariffs as Phones 4U. As it stands, customers can sign up for unlimited track downloads for £1.99 per week through the network. It will bring out its own MusicStation tariffs before Christmas.

Omnifone chief executive Rob Lewis said: “There is a lot of confusion in the market about digital music. We all know about the iPhone – it’s one device and costs £269, on top of a £45 per month tariff that allows 600 minutes and 500 texts. 1,000 tracks will cost £790 and music will be locked to the iPhone. Many consumers want to buy an iPhone but there is a mass market for other devices.”

Bloor Research international IT analyst Robin Bloor said: “Consumers are being given a choice. On one side we have a sexy but expensive new phone from Apple, exclusively on O2, which demands a consumer buys music track-by-track using iTunes with a credit card.

“While some consumers will buy the iPhone, many will find the convenience and affordability of MusicStation compelling. They will know they’re not getting themselves tied to a specific manufacturer’s music service and have the freedom to change manufacturer in the future.”