Voda-groan as sales are hit by rivals ; yourmoneySAVVY CUSTOMERS CUT COSTS [Mirror (UK)]
(Mirror (UK) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) VODAFONE has suffered its worst sales for three years - as its boss branded some of a rival's customers "technology-freaks".
The mobile phone giant saw UK revenue plunge 5.2% to just over Pounds 1.2billion in the final three months of 2012.
The firm has suffered a triple-whammy of cut-throat competition, the weak economy and customers being more savvy about what tariffs they're on. Business use has also been hit as firms axe jobs.
What's not known is whether Vodafone is alone in struggling as it's the first to announce results for the period.
Chief executive Vittorio Colao used the opportunity to have a dig at rival EE, the UK's biggest network. EE, formed from the merger of T-Mobile and Orange, was the first to launch super-fast 4G services, which went on sale in November.
Colao said: "I haven't heard from people saying they desperately want 4G. There may be some innovators or technologyfreaks who do."
Vodafone, along with O2 and 3, aren't due to bring out 4G services of their own until later this year, giving EE a big head start.
EE, which announced the roll-out of 4G to 27 more towns yesterday, will give its results later this month.
Vodafone has responded to people keeping a close eye on their mobile usage by launching a product called Red. It costs more but includes unlimited calls, texts and lots of internet surfing. The company now has 800,000 Red customers.
Contract customers in the UK grew by 253,000 in the final three months of last year but it lost 23,000 pay-as-you-go users.
Vodafone, which has 430million customers worldwide and 19.5million in the UK, saw group revenue drop 2.6% to Pounds 11.4bn.
Revenue from countries in crisis-hit southern Europe slid by a huge 17%.
But the worry for the firm is that northern Europe, including the UK, is also suffering.
"Our results continue to reflect very difficult market conditions in Europe," Colao said.
"We are addressing this through firm actions on cost efficiency, and continuing to invest in areas of growth potential."
Debts fell to Pounds 23.3bn thanks to a Pounds 2.4bn dividend from its stake in Verizon Wireless.
sal"I haven't heard from people saying they desperately want 4G
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