Many years ago I had occasion to interview Andrew Hearn, then the boss of Bahrain Telecommunications Company (Batelco to you, mate). He was a great interview, speaking precisely and pretty much laying it on the line.
One thing he said that really stuck in my mind, and has done up until the present day, was: "Alexander, you have to understand. Only a complete fool can lose money in telecommunications."
Someone hasn't told this lot that...
So they announced they've got 1.75 million users, of which 1.4 million are 'active'. This is the first we've seen the distinction made: certainly not a distinction made when they announced they'd crossed the million (which prompted me to invent The Du test, if you will recall). If you take the 1.4 million figure, that's a loss of Dhs 44 per subscriber in the quarter, or a little over 8%.
Given that Du reached 850,000 subscribers in September last year, Du's result in the last quarter of 2007, a revenue of some Dhs639mn, was achieved with half the number of subscribers. In other words, Du has achieved revenue growth of 18% on subscriber growth of 50%.
Interestingly, and to be fair to poor old Du, their ARPU (Average Revenue Per User, a telecom industry performance benchmark, although not the most accurate but certainly the first figure everyone looks at) would appear to be reasonable - dividing revenue by users, we're looking at an ARPU of something like $49, which ain't too bad - particularly not for a predominantly pre-paid user base.
But I still only know one person who uses a Du mobile...
Meanwhile, Gulf News has been spanking Etisalat over its customer service... and Dubai Sunshine has been spanking Du over theirs!!!