Less than 18 months after investing US$30 million in acquiring the Swedish navigation company Wayfinder, Vodafone has announced it is to close the business and move existing customers over to new offerings, mainly provided by partners and handset makers.
This move became inevitable after Google and Nokia began offering free navigation services as part of the overall handset experience. Others now pay for Vodafone’s initial effort in driving data revenues through navigation services.
Hence this move might be a smart and logical step and could well save Vodafone unnecessary investment after the prevailing business model changed so radically.
You could take a different view at why this happened, though. Handset manufacturers have again proved successful in providing and controlling an important part of the user experience.
It could be regarded as another setback in the struggle of mobile telcos to play a more important role in the rapid development of the mobile Internet.
Are mobile operators simply too slow to keep up with the speed of Internet giants and hardware manufacturers like Apple and Nokia? What are the reasons for Vodafone’s failure to stay ahead of the curve and to lead the mobile revolution?