Vodafone 360 takes on the Mobile App stores

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Vodafone today launched Vodafone 360 (its replacement for Vodafone Live) which brings together mobile phone contacts,  social networking accounts, email, IM, etc.  so they can be accessed seamlessly on phone or PC. It currently covers Facebook, Live Messenger and Google Talk. Twitter will be added soon. Vodafone has also added a range of new apps, games, music and mapping services as part of the launch and a 360 shop where content and apps  can be purchased. 360 will be downloadable to 100 different mobile phones in Germany, Greece, Ireland,  Italy, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain and the UK as well as being pre-installed on a some  new 360 handsets from Samsung to be launched by the end of the year. Finally, 360 will be available to non-Vodafone customers as long as they have a suitable phone.

Vodafone 360 People

When you scroll through your 360 contact list you will see status updates, photos, etc. of this person. 360_Status_landscapeAfter selecting the person you can then choose how to contact him, e.g.  sms,  email, IM, video chat. You can see friends of this user from multiple services and content associated with him like photos. There’s a very nifty 3D photo view of your contacts where the people you contact the most have larger images. The timeline (3D or 2D) view shows latest status updates and other activity.

Vodafone 360 Content

home_feature4Photos can taken, location-tagged and then uploaded directly into Facebook or other websites. Vodafone maps allows you to tag locations.  It will be interesting to see how this will effect 3rd party applications which allow easy location-tagging and sharing of content between mobile and social networking sites . The music service will run on mobile and PC while 1000 applications are available from the 360 shop.

Developers

Developers get access to a billing API which allows charges to be added to mobile phone bill, a location API and of course Vodafone’s huge distribution network. Vodafone are also launching an app star competition with a 1 million EU prize fund awarded to outstanding applications evaluated on value to the customer, user experience and innovation.

Vodafone’s Motivation

CEO Vittorio Calao talked about how mobile data accounts for 10% of Vodafone’s  revenue. Currently 1 in every 5 new phone sold are smartphones but only around 15% of the customer base have a smartphone. Vodafone wants to target those customers. The fact that Vodafone isn’t selling the iPhone market in many markets may also be a factor.  40% of web page views are on social networks and most users access the networks multiple times a day; hence the emphasis on social networks.  Vodafone are aiming to have 21 MBit/s connection speeds soon in many countries in parallel with 360 services. 360 can be seen as a direct attempt to counteract the app-store effect which has seen operators been bypassed in favour of 3rd party app stores. Some might say that it is too little too late but underestimating Vodafone’s reach is usually a mistake.

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