Opinion: Why the iPhone might just be killing O2's reputation

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02 twitter.jpgSurprise, surprise. O2 is getting hammering on Twitter. And that’s not just the view of a group of iPhone owners in my local (or some unhappy bloggers) but the main headline in a report published by media company Kaizo.

The Kaizo Advocacy Index, which tracks online reputation via sites like Twitter, Facebook and Google, was published this week and highlights how O2’s online ‘sentiment score’ had plummeted. Apparently it has gone down 20 per cent over the past six months and O2 is by some distance the worst performing brand in the mobile sector.

So why has O2’s reputation slunk to a new low? Well this is just my opinion but I think it could well be the iPhone. The phone has been bought by early adopters who want to use their handset to do lots of data-centric interesting things – like for example post tweets. When the phone doesn’t function in the way they expect it to their way of moaning about its failings is via Twitter. And sadly for O2 iPhone owners don’t tend to have an issue with the device itself (maybe they should?) but rather the network on which it runs.

Now I couldn’t call myself an authority on the reach of mobile phone networks, but I do know that compared to its rivals O2 is lagging behind in the breadth and quality of its 3G coverage. Throw in a data hungry community with high expectations for their new wonderful device into the mix and it sounds like a recipe for brand reputation disaster.

In some ways it might be a blessing for O2 when the other networks actually get hold of the iPhone. On one level it takes the spotlight off O2, and secondly it will give mobile industry watchers a chance to compare the performance of the iPhone on different networks. If the handset performs badly on other networks then maybe people will be a little less harsh on O2.

Anyhow back to the report. Kaizo MD Rhodri Harries told PR Week that O2’s poor reputation stemmed largely from negative comments on Twitter: ‘There has been a huge rise in the number of people posting about bad service and signals. They clearly need to get their house in order and proactively go back and deal with customer service issues.’

The study examines links on Google and posts on Twitter and Facebook before assigning a sentiment score.

Here’s the Kaizo report

Ashley Norris