Belgian telecom operator Mobistar breaks new grounds in screwing up PR campaigns with iPhone launch

Belgian telecom operator Mobistar breaks new grounds in screwing up PR campaigns with iPhone launch

When Steve Jobs introduced the 3G iPhone some time ago, one of the slides he showed was the list of 22 lucky countries who were going to start distributing the groundbreaking device starting 11 July. Lo and behold, Belgium was on that list.

Now, in my home country, there are 3 major telecom operators, the biggest ones being Proximus (owned by government-controlled Belgacom) and Mobistar (part of the Orange group), followed by BASE. Mobistar was ‘chosen’ as the launch partner in Belgium, unsurprisingly since the company is part of Orange, the iPhone’s distributor in France. Note that the 3G network isn’t even operational in Belgium yet since Mobistar opted for EDGE instead, and when it will be at the end of this year, it’ll only cover 80% of the country. Proximus was a more likely partner anyhow because they already have a 3G network, but ok, Mobistar it is. Ok, Mobistar has 3G (80% coverage), BASE is EDGE. My bad.

Then something weird happened. All of the sudden, Mobistar started backtracking on the launch date, and the Apple Belgium website changed the date from 11 July to ‘soon’.

Everyone was baffled, people started to vent their frustrations, and Mobistar was probably ferociously trying to fix things behind the scenes. Of course, they did nothing to engage in a conversation with the early adopters who would be their first iPhone customers.

Then, they screwed up again. Today, in a throw at the epic fail award of the year, Mobistar cancelled a press conference which it initiated to share more information about the delay of the iPhone launch. Basically, that means they are delaying their delay, officially because their ‘commercial offer isn’t fully perfected just yet’. This of course spurred a flurry of blog posts and Twitter messages bashing Mobistar, especially since no one (including members of the press) is able to reach anyone from Mobistar for comments.

Mobistar, if you’re reading, which I’m actually pretty sure you’re not: you turned something extremely potential into a massive PR campaign fail which is going to resonate for months and months. I call epic fail, and I doubt anyone will disagree. Proximus and BASE are probably rolling on the floor laughing at you right now. If it weren’t so tragic, I’d be too.

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