Vodafone are due to launch their iPhone offering in the UK on January 14th. I’ve been looking at the Vodafone iPhone web pages, and thought it odd that Visual Voicemail wasn’t mentioned.
Yesterday, I came across a conversation between James Robinson and Vodafone on Twitter, and the carrier has confirmed that they won’t be offering Visual Voicemail in the UK at launch.
As you can see from this iLounge article, Vodafone doesn’t currently offer Visual Voicemail in other countries. This isn’t to say that they won’t enable it later, but it’s going to be missing at the launch. I’m also waiting to hear back from Vodafone as to whether they’ll be offering Call Merging as well.
Visual Voicemail is not the norm
But Vodafone is not the exception – the former exclusive iPhone provider O2 is. As I revealed in my article “Extra details on the Tesco Mobile iPhone deal“, Tesco are not offering Visual Voicemail (or several other services such as tethering). This is despite Tesco Mobile being a 50/50 joint venture with O2, and therefore running on O2’s infrastructure.
I was also surprised to discover – from a quick check of Apple’s support document, “Locating iPhone wireless carriers” that Orange UK do not offer Visual Voicemail either – although they are planning to enable it in early 2010, apparently.
However, Orange does offer Visual Voicemail in Austria, France and Switzerland. Vodafone, on the other hand, doesn’t offer it anywhere in the world except New Zealand and maybe Portugal. So support for Visual Voicemail – initially one of the iPhone’s promoted “wow” features – is quite patchy.
Is this the best we can expect from Big Red? They, and some other established iPhone providers, seem to be unwilling to tweak their networks to offer an iPhone-optimised experience?
Does it matter anymore?
I think that Visual Voicemail is not really that much of a “pull” for the iPhone. I’m on O2, so I have Visual Voicemail – and I quite like it. But I’ve a feeling it’s not that important to many iPhone customers, who are used to normal voicemail services, which are probably quite sufficient. If you want extra, there are always services such as Hullomail. (incidentally, that page contains a video with the Star Wars theme played on bagpipes
Visual Voicemail isn’t that important – in terms of making the iPhone attractive as a platform, it has been far overtaken by the availability of thousands of apps. But if you do want it, don’t sign up for an iPhone with Vodafone or Tesco Mobile.
In summary: “Visual Voicemail – only on O2” (and then only on Pay Monthly iPhone tariffs, not Pay As You Go, and certainly not on any SIM-free tariffs that you may choose in order to save cash…)