Kogan Declares Victory

The fight had barely begun, but Kogan Mobile has already claimed victory over Telstra wholesaler ispONE.


As far as I know, unlike earthquakes there is no official scale to measure the magnitude of a ‘rumble’. Mostly one must resort to a loose collection of adjectives. Those of the utmost severity, such as the famous 1974 rumble between Ali and Foreman in Kinshasa, might conceivably be described as ‘royal’. There was an Oscar-winning documentary about it.


There probably won’t be a documentary made about the current stoush between Kogan and ispONE in the Victorian Supreme Court. As rumbles go, it barely rates as a tremor, which will presumably prove disappointing to those in the Australian tech media who were clearly eager to see a fight. Nothing generates copy like disunity.


ispONE has officially withdrawn its counterclaim that Kogan was in breach of their wholesale agreement. They also sought to drag Telstra’s name into proceedings, insisting that it had actually been Telstra’s decision to suspend several hundred Kogan customers. Kogan is determined that this particular fight should not involve Australia’s largest telco. ispONE has apparently also undertaken to deliver the 50,000 SIMs it had been withholding from Kogan since the start of last month, which Kogan successfully argued had been crippling for their business.


The main upshot, as far as we can see, is that in the space of a few short months, Kogan has attempted to transform itself from the cruel ogre mistreating unsuspecting customers to a proud little guy standing up to a merciless giant. Winning the case itself is arguably less important than saving its reputation. After all, the actual number of customers affected by this - less than 5% - is small in relation to the amount of media coverage it has received.


Kogan’s founder, operating via the miracle of Twitter, had this to say:

Kogan's goal is to make technology more affordable.The problem with a shitfight is that even when you win you're still covered in shit [1/3]

— Ruslan Kogan (@ruslankogan) May 1, 2013

I prefer to resolve issues wearing a t-shirt over a coffee. I hate ironing shirts & escalating to the courts is always a last resort [2/3]

— Ruslan Kogan (@ruslankogan) May 1, 2013

That said, Kogan will always take whatever measures are necessary to ensure our customers are protected and get the best deals [3/3]

— Ruslan Kogan (@ruslankogan) May 1, 2013

BRW wrote recently that whatever the outcome, the main damage would be to Kogan, since ispONE is hardly crippled adverse findings in the court of public opinion. MVNOs will still be obliged to use them for access to Telstra's network. That's obviously what Kogan meant by his 'shitfight' line. No one comes out smelling like roses, but it largely falls to his company to limit the damage.

You may recall that this whole issue first blew up on Whirlpool, as various users reported that their Kogan Mobile subscriptions hadn't been renewed. Kogan was keen to bring the matter full circle, and posted an explanation on Whirlpool earlier today, one that was entirely in keeping with the attempt to reposition them as the David in this David and Goliath tale. It remains to be seen how thoroughly consumers will buy it.

If they don't, there might be a rumble worth watching.