Having spent two years developing its 360 services, Vodafone has announced a sudden change of direction and has dropped launch plans for any more 360-branded handsets.
The company, which has struggled to gain consumer momentum with its Samsung 360 handsets, said it would now focus on expanding its mobile back-up and other cloud services under the 360 brand. This move will see Vodafone drop the 360-branded Samsung H1 and M1 devices and it has scrapped plans for a LiMo-powered Samsung H2 device.
However, Vodafone said that it will continue to encourage handset vendors to preload 360 services on their devices, rather than competing with them. It has already released a version of the 360 store for Android, and will maintain support for the LiMo OS, despite the fact that this operator-driven OS remains far behind Google's Android in market acceptance.
"We have always been clear that Vodafone 360 is about a suite of services, not just about bespoke devices. Our intent was always to provide services across as many handsets and platforms as possible," Vodafone said in a statement. "From now on we will be focusing all efforts on expanding the range of handsets and platforms that support Vodafone 360 and in developing and enhancing the suite of Vodafone 360 services."
While Vodafone might have some success in promoting 360 services, this shift will be a knock for the LiMo Foundation given the Linux-based OS was meant to support operator business models and boost brand visibility. While Japanese operators remain supportive, Vodafone 360 was seen as pioneering the way in Europe. This decision will likely prove negative for the planned launch by Verizon Wireless of a similar service with LiMO devices later this year.
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