EE to broaden services as it becomes BT's flagship consumer platformEE to broaden services as it becomes BT's flagship consumer platform
EE unveils its new consumer platform as part of its diversification strategy, as well as BT's plans to make it its flagship consumer brand.
October 18, 2023
UK operator EE has today launched a new consumer platform EE ID, through which it will offer a broader range of products. The diversification has drawn mixed reactions, with some analysts praising it for tapping new revenue streams.
The EE ID platform will be accessible to all consumers, not just the brand's customers. It will offer services including network connectivity, a subscription manager and an expanded consumer electronics portfolio, as well as home security and insurance.
Dario Talmesio, research director at Omdia (Light Reading's sister company), told Light Reading via email that "EE is mirroring what we have seen in other markets; they are leveraging existing customer relation and existing brand awareness to become a super-aggregator of mainly third-party products and services."
"It is a sensible move; it can work but there are several caveats. Creating a marketplace to retail accessories, hardware, digital and financial services is not easy, and the market is incredibly crowded and saturated," he added.
Paolo Pescatore of PP Foresight seemed more optimistic about this strategy in his remarks, noting that retailers "should perceive this as a threat, given the new EE's combined entity and its opportunity to sell more subscriptions and products with a seamless experience."
Not everyone is that upbeat, however, with Omdia's principal analyst James Crawshaw saying on LinkedIn: "Why not try consumer electronics retailing? That seems like a highly profitable market with limited competition. NOT." He added: "This has to rank as the dumbest idea I have seen in telecom ever. And I've seen a few," pointing to the FT's reporting (paywall applies), which suggests the move could see EE selling appliances like fridges and coffee machines.
EE unveiled its plans to diversify last year, following a path taken by several other European telcos seeking to strengthen their position by tapping into new revenue streams and increasing their stickiness with customers.
Kester Mann, director of consumer and connectivity at CCS Insight, noted that "today's update won't quell mounting questions over whether telecom operators can monetize their networks, compete with big technology companies and rejuvenate financial performance."
But he added that "EE at least appears to recognize its challenges and the changes outlined feel like a step in the right direction.”
EE as main consumer brand
The announcement also includes the launch of EE Fibre 1.6Gbit/s, which EE claims is the fastest home broadband speed of any major provider.
The announcement is part of an ongoing shift toward bringing all consumer-facing services under the EE brand. The BT brand, meanwhile, will continue to offer a "more focused portfolio," including standalone broadband and landline services, as well as social tariffs, for the time being.
Paolo Pescatore of PP Foresight notes the disappearance of the BT brand "will lead to mixed emotions and [is a move] the company will have to carefully manage to avoid customers leaving for rival providers, at least in the short term during the transition."
EE is planning a high-intensity media campaign, likely in an effort to prevent that very scenario.
This change was made public last year, when BT announced it would make EE its flagship consumer brand. Customers will now be invited to join EE when they renew or upgrade, starting next week.
Mann told Light Reading via email that "running two major brands could not continue indefinitely. It brings additional cost and complexity both internally and for customers: two accounts, two apps, two product road maps and multiple systems." He also noted that "this is not an approach that aligns with strategic efforts to streamline BT, improve simplicity and achieve cost-saving targets."
As for why EE has been selected as the main brand, he notes that the "BT brand has failed to resonate with the UK's increasingly technology-savvy consumers. The EE brand seems better equipped to spearhead the company’s vision that will focus on innovation, convergence and services beyond connectivity."
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