Roundabout way of thinking
Vodafone 360 is a landmark idea – the first fully-formed operator response to the app store ‘revolution’. Tim Green asked Vodafone’s Internet Services’ branded content director, Lee Epting, all about it… lthough every operator in the Western world had a WAP storefront offering Java downloads during the middle years of the noughties, it was Vodafone Live that became most synonymous with the idea. It was the biggest and the most heavily marketed. Like all the others, it didn’t really work. Sure, it depends how you measure success and, Voda would certainly construct arguments for why it was pleased with Live! But the fact is, Live is, well, dead. It’s being replaced by Vodafone 360, a new service that chimes so much more harmoniously with the times. It’s about social networking, widgets, open standards, the long tail. Still not quite sure what it is? Here’s the big picture. Vodafone 360 in its purest form can be seen installed in two Samsung devices at launch. Here, all of a customer’s contacts, status updates and messaging services are converged into one rich address book. This is Vodafone’s ‘people service’ linking a person’s phonebook to Twitter, IM, Facebook et al. The integration in the platform means that people service also links to music, photos and mapping services so users can share their favourite music choices and even physical location with their chosen groups of friends. This is all synced to the PC or Mac. To help third party developers grab a piece of what’s happening on the handsets of 360 customers, Vodafone has introduced a widget/app developer programme. This is being run through the Joint Innovation Lab, a consortium of Voda, China Mobile, Verizon and Softbank. Products will be accessible via an app store accessible from within 360 or via a browser.
Lee Epting, Vodafone’s Internet Services’ branded content director, talks about the ‘people service’, Vodafone 360
Yes, it’s massive. Or it could be if enough handsets support it and consumers catch on. What does 360 say about Live? What will happen to this service? Whatever you say, there are 30 million Live customers, and 85 per cent of data subscribers use Live. But, the idea is to migrate it to 360. The timeline depends on the territory, but the service will eventually close and it has already been re-branded as My Web in most territories. This will be a destination to offer some of the 360
services through the browser when a download isn’t available.
download. We want 360 to be available to everyone.
360 is a big deal. But there are just two handsets now. Do you think that is enough? Obviously, those two launch devices deliver the best possible 360 experience, but the service is also downloadable to other handsets including a group of Nokia series 60 3.2 phones. And over 100 devices can download the people client. We do have more devices to come and we will actively market the
Including developers. How soon will we see apps? The JIL widget standard is based on W3C so it’s an easy and familiar development tool. This means that there’ll be hundreds of apps soon after launch. Developers can work with their local opcos, but if they’re willing to take into consideration translation and other factors, they will be able to genuinely target a maximum of one billion users. www.mobile-ent.biz
Published on Nov 3, 2009