Over the past several years Vodafone has built up a world-leading position supplying telecoms services to a broad range of products beyond the traditional smartphone including cars, streetlights and utility meters. The next stage of the internet of things (IoT) will see an exciting new generation of products that can make all our lives safer, more convenient and more interconnected.
We have now launched “V by Vodafone” to help our consumer customers more simply extend the benefits of mobile connectivity beyond smartphones and tablets to these other connected products.
The “V by Vodafone” concept and product range were developed with insights from comprehensive research involving more than 15,000 consumers in Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK.
Inevitably those people did not want to just talk about technology but rather to share the real concerns that their families wanted help with.
Modern families come in many varieties but share a desire for technology to bring their households closer together and to keep everyone and everything they care about safe and secure.
For example, parents with teenage children who are learning to drive wanted to know how to keep them safe even after passing their test.
For many people, including myself, a dog or cat is very much part of their family and we want to know how to protect it, whether that is finding the animal if it strays, or monitoring that it is getting enough exercise and staying healthy.
People with property away from a static house — like boats, caravans or allotments — wanted to know how they can extend home security to those other precious places.
Other people just wanted a way to track the location of valuables such as bags to reduce the risk of theft or loss.
We have developed products to address those specific concerns – “V-Auto by Vodafone”, “V-Camera by Vodafone”, “V-Pet by Vodafone”, and “V-Bag by Vodafone”. There are many more products that we know can help consumers.
Yet our research also revealed that the experience for customers wanting to access those devices could be made a lot simpler.
Imagine you want to buy one of the new generation of pet trackers that fit onto an animal’s collar and send their location to your smartphone. You might go to a pet store, or order online, but either way the device may not come with a SIM card from your existing telecoms supplier. That would mean a trip to a telecoms store. You would then need to also choose a price plan designed for a smartphone or tablet, not a pet tracker. Once set up, when there were updates to that plan, or other communications from the network, they would be sent to your pet, which is wearing the SIM in a tracker around its neck.
We therefore created “V by Vodafone” as a mark of quality indicating a very different customer experience. We are aiming to create a large range of connected products for consumers that will either come with a “V-Sim by Vodafone”, or have it for sale within the same retail outlet.
The “V-Sim by Vodafone” is easy to fit (if not already built into the device) and, by simply scanning a QR code, you can add the device to others all managed in one place – the new “V by Vodafone” app (available from the Apple App store or Google Play store).
The single, affordable fixed monthly price plan for each product connected with a “V-Sim by Vodafone” will then be added automatically to your bill (for existing customers).
Unlike Wi-Fi-enabled devices, products fitted with a “V-Sim by Vodafone” are constantly connected wherever there is a mobile signal, from the streets of densely populated cities to remote rural areas. You won’t even pay more if you want to use the product overseas in any of 32 countries* that are part of Vodafone’s global internet of things network, with no extra charges when roaming**.
“V by Vodafone” will make it easy for you to use multiple IoT-enabled products using the “V by Vodafone” app.
In time it’s also possible to envisage those devices being able to connect to each other over our platform enabling you, for instance, to set home heating to turn on when it detects your cat coming home on a cold day or to alert you if your car is driving away from the school gates in the morning with your child’s gym bag still in the boot.
Our launch products are available first exclusively to existing Vodafone mobile customers in selected Vodafone stores in Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK and are online at v.vodafone.com.
We are just at the beginning of seeing consumers wanting to connect many more devices to their mobile accounts, but by launching “V by Vodafone” we are ready to help you to do that.
Americo Lenza is Head of Product for Vodafone’s consumer Internet of Things team. He has worked for Vodafone Group in a variety of roles since 2009.
*Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Republic of Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the UK.
**Subject to fair usage.
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