When Vodafone decided to name its new service 360, they weren't messing around. It invokes ideas of all-round connectivity. But it goes much further than just integrating your Facebook friends with your address book on a few handsets.
360 rolls up a whole collection of services giving Vodafone a chance to attack a number of different markets - this isn't just about launching new handsets, or just about launching new services for Vodafone customers.
Yes, the complete experience from Vodafone 360 will be on the new Samsung handset - the Vodafone 360 H1 - and its little sister the Vodafone 360 M1, which is yet to make an appearance. There will be a total of 10 devices that support the entire Vodafone 360 experience, including the Nokia 7630, from launch.
But Vodafone 360 will span devices, giving Vodafone an opening into the world of apps, giving them the Vodafone Shop to flog their wares, with an open platform for developers to create these apps, for distribution through-out the Vodafone network. With 1.1 billion connected global customers through JIL (Vodafone, Verizon Wireless, China Mobile and Softbank Mobile), it's an interesting proposition indeed for developers.
The Vodafone 360 system will also work in the opposite direction, by giving Vodafone the opportunity to push their new apps to other handsets on other networks, which is where the waters get slightly murky.
Essentially they have mashed up a range of previous acquisitions and agreements to provide a unified offering with Vodafone 360. The integration of contacts and social networks in Vodafone People comes from the roots laid down by ZYB. The navigation side comes from Wayfinder. The music offering comes from RealNetworks.
Vodafone today confirmed its intention to provide Vodafone People to iPhone users via the App Store (subject to confirmation as it is "in development"). A full list of over 100 supported devices is already on the Vodafone 360 website (link below).
Whilst Vodafone 360 is a complete service, it can be nibbled at piecemeal, so you might find yourself in the future downloading (or buying?) a piece of the Vodafone 360 "collection", because you like the way it works.
In essence, they are outlining a service that looks a little like Google Mobile. Take the lot (if your device supports it), take the pieces you want, or buy into the whole thing by getting a Vodafone handset - rather like buying an Android with Google services ready to go.
What does Vodafone stand to get out of this? Well apart from the brand recognition and any sales of their in-house developed applications, they'll get a 30% cut of any apps they sell through their Shop too.
It's a bold move as another player steps into the mobile apps and services market.