November 20, 2008 / 3:09 PM / in 9 years

Vodafone struggling to meet Storm demand - Colao

LONDON, Nov 20 (Reuters) - Vodafone (VOD.L), the world’s largest mobile phone group by revenue, is struggling to meet demand for the new Blackberry Storm phone, its chief executive said on Thursday.

Vittorio Colao told a small group of journalists after a speech at an Ofcom event that the phone was selling very well.

“We might end up having a problem with giving enough Storms to as many customers who want it,” he said. “It’s going very well, we might be short of them, to be honest.”

The first touch-screen Blackberry smartphone went on sale in Britain earlier this month and Vodafone, its exclusive UK sales partner, had already said thousands of customers pre-ordered the device.

The Blackberry Storm, Research in Motion’s RIM.TO answer to Apple’s (AAPL.O) iPhone, goes on sale in the United States on Nov. 21.

Colao also suggested the company was looking at devices with the Android operating system from Google Inc (GOOG.O) but was not ready to announce anything yet.

“We are not religious on operating systems,” he said, without giving any further details.

Colao used his speech to the Ofcom International conference to urge regulators to give telecoms companies the flexibility to innovate, saying the industry could help pull others out of the economic downturn.

    ”Regulators and policy makers ... need to resist the temptation to over regulate the industry,“ he said. ”This industry has to be seen as a big part of an economic solution to the bigger economic feature.

    “Our customers in Ghana couldn’t care less about the ownership of the network. Our customers in Ghana want services that can improve their lives.”

    Colao, who took over the top job at Vodafone in July, said he saw mobile broadband being a big part of that solution, for both consumers and business customers.

    ”Today less than 10 percent of the customers have a mobile data subscription,“ he said. ”In the coming decades I think I can project that we could make this a reality for most people on the planet.

    “If you think of the 1 billion people that today have access to the Internet thanks to a PC, I am not shy in saying the next ... two billion can do it through a mobile connection.” (Reporting by Kate Holton; editing by Simon Jessop)

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