Vodafone's head of web services quits - future strategy in question

Having been poached from Microsoft in 2008 to lead Vodafone's burgeoning internet services division, Pieter Knook has quit the UK-based operator as the company struggles to compete with Google, Apple and ambitious handset vendors in the service sector.

While the company claimed that its flagship Vodafone 360 services and strategy "remain unchanged", Knook is thought to have resigned in frustration after having parts of his division scrapped by senior management.

The Vodafone 360 project--Vodafone's high profile entry into the internet services arena--has been significantly curtailed since it was launched last September. The company stopped selling 360 handsets made by Samsung which were positioned to compete with iPhone and Android handsets. It has now backed away from this strategy and is instead attempting to have 360 installed on as many handsets as possible. But the company has been more recently criticised for attempting to force 360 apps onto Android device owners.

An indication of the company's lacklustre appreciation of 360 comes with the announcement of three new phones that will become available for the Christmas sales period. Only one, the touchscreen Vodafone 553, will support 360 People--an address book that combines a customer's various online contact lists in one place and makes them available both on the phone and automatically backed up and in sync at www.360.com.

Another noticeable failure for the company was the closure of its mapping service which it acquired with the purchase of Swedish-based Wayfinder for £22 million last year.

What might also have dismayed Knook are reports that Vodafone is to join other major European operators in an initiative to create an open OS platform in another effort to challenge the growing weight of operating systems from Apple, Nokia and other handset vendors.

For more on this story:
- read The Financial Times

Related stories:
Vodafone cans its 360 handsets; focus now on synch and cloud services
Vodafone 360 to receive 1m euro boost with app competition
Vodafone 360 opened to developers for paid apps
Vodafone 360 condemned by Funambol

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