Vodafone loses internet head

UK-based operator Vodafone confirmed on Tuesday that Pieter Knook, head of internet services and the executive in charge of Vodafone 360, is leaving the firm.

The company has recently restructured, giving a glimpse into its future plans through a simplified management designed to help speed up decision making, with all commercial units combined into a new group.

This move does not seem to have sat well with Knook: “With the recent changes in Vodafone Group’s organisation structure and the creation of the Group Commercial function, we can confirm that Pieter has decided to leave the business,” the company said.

And while Vodafone 360 has been much lambasted by industry watchers, Vodafone confirmed that it will continue to develop the service.

However, Bengt Nordstrom, CEO of independent mobile business consultancy Northstream, believes the move suggests Vodafone’s own-branded mobile web service offerings are struggling to compete with rivals.

“Vodafone 360 is almost a case study of what most major operators are doing wrong. Rather than cooperating with their peers around the world to create a common platform for social media and other services, individual operators instead continue to follow a sub-scale, proprietary approach,” Nordstrom said.

There is intense competition in the sector from internet players like Google, Facebook and Skype, as well as device companies like Apple, HTC and Nokia, limiting the potential of operator-branded offerings like Vodafone 360.

“The simple truth is that mobile operators have never been particularly strong when it comes to developing new devices, software and services. Luckily for them, however, their success is not dependent on being strong in these areas. What matters for them are issues like network quality and coverage, customer care and channel strategy,” Nordstrom said.

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