easyMobile, the low-cost no-frills discount mobile venture launched in March by the entrepreneur Stelios Haji-Ioannou, is struggling in its quest to break into the UK mobile market, amid claims that it has signed up just 5,000 customers in its first two months. The company’s launch and plans for a new cut-price approach threatened to spark a mobile price war and shake up the mobile sector. However, this has failed to materialise, and now the operator’s boss, Frank Rasmussen, is attempting to deflect criticism by claiming that it has only been marketing the business for two weeks and that March was merely a ‘soft launch’. He said the 5,000 subscriber number being quoted by the Daily Telegraph newspaper was ‘not correct’ and claimed the real number was ‘more than 5,000’.
easyMobile was launched as a cheaper alternative to the UK’s major network operators O2, T-Mobile, Vodafone and Orange. Its business model requires customers to buy a SIM card via the easyMobile site and insert it in their existing handset. However, according to the Daily Telegraph the website is attracting just 20 daily visitors for every one million consumers online, compared with 500 per one million for O2, 300 for Orange UK and 180 for T-Mobile.
Despite the problems being faced by easyMobile in the UK market, the Stelios-backed group is forging ahead with its plans to launch services in Europe. Last month TDC, one of the company’s backing the venture, said it had signed a deal with Telfort to launch the low-cost model service in the Netherlands. Rasmussen says he has ‘great expectations for easyMobile in the Netherlands’ and hopes the company will benefit from the company’s introduction in the UK which has been very successful and ‘exceeded expectations’.