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Vodafone: FMC and Voda-Berries coming soon

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Author: WildC@rd

Vodafone today revealed it will be launching its own fixed-mobile convergence (FMC) product and low-cost own-brand BlackBerry-a-likes in the coming months. Vodafone's move into new handsets comes as the company announced it hopes to derive 10 per cent of its revenue from advertising, fixed-mobile substitution and integrated PC and mobile data services within the next three to four years. Convergence is not going to keep CIOs in a job. It's not champagne yet... FMC I don't really see as being proven. -- Lars Westergaard, analyst, IDC David Hughes, head of enterprise mobility solutions at Vodafone, said the company has already had discussions with would-be partners for an FMC product. The operator expects to whittle the shortlist down to two or three by Christmas and to launch a full-blown offering by 2007. He said: "We don't have to do all this ourselves... We have a number of large technology partners pitching convergence." All about FMC Read our Cheat Sheet on FMC - aka fixed-mobile convergence. Both BT and Orange have already launched their own FMC products, where a single mobile device is used to make cellular calls on the go or VoIP calls on a user's premises. BT was the first to market, launching its Fusion service in June last year. Orange followed with its Unique system in September. However, IDC analyst Lars Westergaard warned enterprises should avoid adopting such converged products within the next couple of years. He said: "Convergence is not going to keep [CIOs] in a job. It's not champagne yet... FMC I don't really see as being proven." Vodafone's Hughes hit back, saying a slow uptake of FMC wouldn't harm the operator's enterprise plan. "If full convergence doesn't happen for two years, it doesn't bother me. We'll continue to take minutes from the fixed environment." The mobile network is also hoping to ramp up its enterprise data activities by offering more low-cost, entry-level push email devices. Vodafone will be working with ODMs (original device manufacturers) to create its own-brand handsets as well as encouraging big brands to create more low-end devices. The company expects to make some announcements around ODM email phones in the next couple of months, a spokesman said. He added the enterprise mobile email market is likely to divide into read-only type users, who will favour lower end devices, and corporate users who will require greater functionality. According to Vodafone, the operator now has almost half of the enterprise IT market. Rival O2 also announced a repositioning as a corporate IT and mobility provider. Vodafone is ready for the handbags at dawn, it says. Hughes said: "Our market share gives us confidence on how we're doing against O2."
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