O2 takes on phone makers with own-brand handsets

O2 is to take on handset manufacturers such as Nokia and Motorola by ramping up its investment in own-branded products.

It is creating a new division in its marketing team to spearhead the launch of a range of own-branded mobile phones and other next-generation devices.

O2, owned by Telefonica, is looking for a head of own-brand marketing to oversee the team, which will be tasked with “identifying untapped device opportunities”.

The role is new and the successful applicant will report directly to marketing director Sally Cowdry.

O2 already sells a number of own-branded phones, such as Ice and Jet, and last year rival Vodafone launched a range of own-branded handsets, as exclusively revealed on marketingweek.co.uk.

But the formation of the new team indicates that O2 sees own-branded devices as an area of increased focus this year. The company is looking for a marketer with experience in both the business and consumer device/ electronic markets.

Last year, O2 established a “capability and innovation” division to look into new technologies, including broadband (MW May 25, 2006).

The company moved 100 people from other parts of the business to work in the new division, including marketing director Russ Shaw, who became capability and innovation director.

Cowdry, who was previously head of consumer marketing, took over from Shaw as marketing director.

Vodafone launched its range of own-brand handsets in September last year. The Vodafone 710 was the first handset manufactured for the mobile giant by China’s Huawei Technologies, following a strategic alliance signed by the two companies a year ago. It will be followed by a number of other handsets later this year.

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