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Vodafone 360 Takes on Android, Apple and Nokia

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vodafoneVodafone (s vod) is hoping to hold onto customers with an ambitious new mobile web service that includes a cloud-based address book, full-track music downloads, app store and integration with social communities such as Facebook and Twitter. Vodafone 360 — which sounds strikingly similar to Nokia’s (s nok) Ovi — will be available across a variety of handsets including two new phones from Samsung: the H1, a high-end device with a multitouch screen and 16GB of memory slated for a European release in time for the holiday season, and the less-powerful M1, which will follow the H1 to market.

Whether Vodafone can effectively expand into the world of mobile web services is unclear, however. It faces stiff competition in the increasingly crowded app-store space, where platform developers, carriers, manufacturers and even third parties fight for developers’ attention. And as Apple (s aapl), Nokia and others have learned, building out mobile web services and cloud-based offerings is no easy task. Vodafone’s vision of an all-inclusive, carrier-branded mobile web service is ambitious and impressive. And its goal of embracing a two-sided business model that leverages the “smart pipe” for third-party app developers is savvy. But fulfilling those visions will take the kind of flawless execution that’s extremely rare for mobile operators.

Interestingly, the first two Vodafone 360 devices will run the LiMo operating system, providing a much-needed boost as the OS vies for market share amid higher-profile platforms such as Google’s (s goog) Android and Nokia’s Symbian. The LiMo Foundation also used the occasion to tout upcoming launches of LiMo-based handsets this year and next year from Verizon Wireless, NTT DoCoMo (s dcm) and Orange, among other operators. (Vodafone 360 will also be embedded on some Symbian handsets and will be downloadable for other devices.)

The mobile web service is part of a major new marketing campaign for the carrier, which boasts 315 million customers in 31 markets. Vodafone is hoping to dust off its image and strengthen its customer relationships as manufacturers such as Apple and Nokia increasingly target their devices and services directly at consumers. Vodafone certainly has the footprint to compete as we move into the era of the mobile web — but it will need a fair amount of dexterity to do so.

Here’s a video of the company announcement:

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12 Responses to “Vodafone 360 Takes on Android, Apple and Nokia”

  1. In contrary to most manufactures and service providers who seems to be going for more or less proprietary cloud based services – we represent a start-up firm offering a similar and more ‘clean’ service independent of both your device platform AND service provider.

    Our basic service is free.

    Having that said we are humble and wish Vodafone good luck with the new service.

    Lars Sorqvist
    CEO/co-founder, Syncfriend AB.

  2. Jonas Hermansson

    Nice move but……

    Do I as a consumer want to have my services associated with my access provider?

    Once you have made the mistake to tie your e-mail to your ISP and realize how hard it is to switch you will think twice before getting the service from your access provider.

    What happens if you move to an area where another operator has better coverage? Then you will lose your investment in setting up the 360.

    Long live separation of service and access.


  3. Patrick Bossert

    The launch of Vodafone 360 is a bold move to monetize more than its data access infrastructure. Its global reach – and the fact that it has opened up its platform to third party application developers – could make it a winning strategy. The logical extension of this move would be for it to begin offering billing and customer support as chargeable services to content providers. This approach will not only boost customer loyalty, it could also yield significant additional revenues from service capabilities the company already owns.

    – Patrick Bossert, Head of Market Strategy, Global Information Management, Convergys