Vodafone has announced what it describes as a "unique" initiative that sees the operator jumping head first into the burgeoning mobile phone application market, although it is at pains to point out it is "not announcing the launch of an app store" - that news will come a few months down the line.

The UK-based company will offer content partners and developers the opportunity to create a range of "mobile internet services" that will eventually be offered to all Vodafone customers around the world via their handsets and will be "by no means confined to smartphones".

Offering "one single point of access to all our customer base", Vodafone believes two main reasons will ensure the success of their ambitious scheme that will offer an industry-standard 70/30 profit split to developers.

The first is that a developer will just have to develop once using Vodafone's JIL-backed API, rather than to have to look at different devices, different operating systems and different countries, giving them access to the company's more than 285 million customers with one app.

Vodafone says that at first the platform will launch for S60 devices, although long-term the plans are to be "platform-agnostic" with plans for the services to be offered across all mobile phone OSes.

The second is that Vodafone's customers will be able to easily access and purchase applications and content through their Vodafone account, rather than having to hand over credit card details.

With a wide range of applications promised, including location-based services, Vodafone says that if people change their handset, they will still own the applications they've previously bought, unlike with rival applications that are tied to one handset, such as Apple's iPhone.

We will keep you posted.