Future of Vodafone's mobile ad unit in doubt; launches Android app store

As part of a much wider internal shake-up of its marketing department, Vodafone has launched a strategic review of its mobile advertising business.

The unit has attracted the attention of the company's new CMO, Wendy Becker, following increased competition from the likes of Google's mobile advertising specialist business AdMob, and will face stiff competition from Apple's recently launched mobile ad network, iAd.

While some observers have speculated that the mobile ad unit could be closed, no decision has yet been made prior to a report from the review strategy team as to how the unit should be positioned for the future.

This move comes as Vodafone undertakes a corporate review of its group marketing team following the sudden departure of global brand director David Wheldon and global director of customer insight Andy Moore.

The company has placed its entire group marketing personnel in ‘consultation' in a bid to restructure its global marketing arm. Staff at Vodafone's HQ were informed of the review before Easter, and the company has admitted that redundancies are inevitable.

Separately, the company has confirmed it is set to launch an app store for Android handsets, similar to the Android Market, in eight European countries. The new service, which will be part of Vodafone's 360 platform, will be managed by Arvato Mobile in Germany.

Arvato is reported to be in talks with developers that have already launched successful free apps on the Android Market. Ad-funded apps are also allowed, but Vodafone is said not to be happy about launching adult content at the moment. Vodafone's App Shop will be pre-installed on operator-branded Android phones from June onward.

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