Vodafone Unveils ‘360’ Social Phonebook Layer For Samsung, Other Handsets

Vodafone (NYSE: VOD) has unveiled Vodafone 360, and it’s not an app store. The service is first a piece of software, layered on top of handsets’ own OS, that aggregates users’ friends and messaging.

It unifies contacts and their activities from the handset’s address book and from social networks to create Vodafone People, a connected address book that scoops up contacts from Facebook, Windows Live Messenger, Google (NSDQ: GOOG) Talk and, soon, Twitter, Hyves and studiVZ. The will all sync automatically to a web counterpart for remote desktop access, too. Some aspects of the service will be available to non-Vodafone users via download, though it’s not clear which.

Voda is pushing the initiative across two exclusive new Samsung handsets (a “H1” and an as-yet-unnamed device), which it says “give the best customer experience of the services” and support the funky 3D view seen in the demo video. But the operator is also making the UI available hrough the LiMo operating system. on a range of its own Vodafone 360 handsets from “multiple manufacturers as possible” – this will include four Nokia (NYSE: NOK) Symbian S60 handsets from launch, though no more are named in the announcement.

Many people had expected 360 would be Vodafone’s answer to the rise of rivals’ app stores. But 360 is the culmination of Vodafone’s