Vodafone will be pulling the plug on its Vodafone 360 brand at the end of 2011, giving up on the dream of being a one-stop shop for customer services and identity aggregation.
Vodafone 360 was launched just over two years ago, and since then has been downgraded from a hardware platform to a software app, been pushed out to unwilling recipients, and still comes pre-installed, if barely usable, on the operator's lower-end handsets.
'360 was supposed to be the aggregate incarnation of Vodafone's services, including music, an app store and social network identity aggregator, not to mention a cloud-based address book and social network of its very own. Vodafone 360 was going to be incarnated as hardware, in the LiMo-based H1, and keep customers tied to the Vodafone brand in the ongoing battle with Apple, Google and Samsung.
With its Bada platform, Samsung gets exactly what Vodafone wanted '360 to provide, while Android tends to push users towards Google and iOS shackles them to Cupertino. Vodafone still has Vodafone Music, and an application store as well as other disparate services, but what it has lost is an umbrella brand that users can identify with.
Not that many users ever identified themselves with Vodafone 360, and the writing was on the wall once it became clear that the custom hardware wasn't selling. Android users reacted angrily to having the service involuntarily pushed onto their handsets, forcing Vodafone into a pair of 180° turns in issuing updates to both the HTC Desire and Samsung Galaxy S that were specifically designed to strip Vodafone 360 from those handsets.
Days later, Vodafone's director of internet services walked, tweeting his delight at the beckoning freedom during his last few days of employment.
These days the only people using Vodafone 360 are those who can't get it off their phones (ironically including Bada handsets supplied by Vodafone, though the service hardly works on such handsets), and a few die-hard fans who bought into the dream.
Those fans are now going to have to store their contacts elsewhere, though their music and apps will continue to be available from the respective, silo'ed, services.
RIP Vodafone 360 – September 2009 to December 2011. ®