Virgin Mobile, Virgin Group’s mobile phone arm, yesterday announced it had surpassed the 2m subscriber mark, confirming its position as the UK’s fastest growing mobile operator. Virgin said its customer numbers had grown 70 percent over the past 12 months and it expected turnover to exceed GBP 250m for the current financial year. Last year it had turnover of GBP 173.8m. Virgin now expects to report EBITDA for 2002 of GBP 18m against earlier projections of GBP 11.7m.Written by The Financial Times for PMN Mobile Industry Intelligence.
Virgin is proving that users like to express their individuality through their choice of network provider. Virgin’s range of handsets is uninspiring, but the strength of the Virgin brand and its competitive pricing is attracting new customers. It would be interesting to see how many of Virgin’s subscribers have converted from another UK network and how many are purchasing a mobile for the first time.
Most consumers are still more comfortable having a brand relationship with their handset, the physical manifestation of the mobile experience. However, Virgin’s continuing success is evidence that slick marketing can shift the brand focus to the service provider. Expect Virgin to be first in the queue for heavily customised handsets from Microsoft’s Smartphone OEMs.
From a financial perspective, Virgin will be able to use earnings growth at its UK operation to fund further international expansion. It has quit the Singapore market, where it was struggling, but the its US venture with Sprint has strong potential.
Originally published by PMN Mobile Industry Intelligence, the subscription-based analysis and insight platform founded by Marek Pawlowski.