Why Vodafone’s 360 Handsets Demand Your Attention

Vodafone has announced the launch of its new 360 web portal along with the release of two new touchscreen phones that will let customers take advantage of the new service. The 360 service is an Internet portal which brings cloud computing to Vodafone’s handsets. Using this web-based personalized connection to the Internet allows customers to use these handsets to maintain their online social networks and to access an advanced web-based address book. That’s a great service but it’s not too different from the services that people get with other up-to-date web-connected touchscreen phones. So why should you bother paying attention to the new handsets being released by Vodafone? It’s because they’re both set to run on the LiMo platform which means big things for the future of the mobile industry.

More About Vodafone’s 360 Handsets

First things first; let’s take a look at the two new handsets that have been announced by Vodafone: the H1 and the M1. Both handsets are manufactured by Samsung,

both support 3G and both are touchscreen phones that offer Bluetooth 2.0. However there are a few differences between the two devices:

Vodafone H1Vodafone M1

1. H1. Vodafone’s new H1 phone has a 3.5″ WVGA AMLED display, 16 GB of internal memory, a built-in 5 megapixel camera with flash and autofocus, 720P HD video recording and Wi-Fi service.

2. M1. The M1 seems to be the lesser of the two devices in terms of being impressive. It’s got a 3.2″ TFT screen, only 1 GB of built-in memory with the option for Micro-SD memory card storage, only a 3 megapixel camera (although it does have 8x zoom) and no apparent Wi-Fi connectivity beyond the 3G for connecting to your 360 service.

More About Vodafone’s 360 Service

The new 360 service by Vodafone is a cloud-based program which can be accessed by the user either via the phone or via personal computer. The goal of the service is essentially to allow customers to store all of their information and entertainment in one place which can then be accessed via the web (and to create new phones that are designed specifically to access this service). Some of the main features of the 360 service include:

Complete and regularly-updated online address book. Using the 360 service, you can create an online address book which you can access anywhere that you can access the Internet. It reportedly stands out as one of the best address books available because of its ability to draw contact information from all of your various sources including your phone, your email accounts and your social networking sites. The service is synched with your PC so that the address book is regularly updated whenever you change or add information anywhere in your arena of contacts. It also allows you to create new groups of friends (spanning across all of your contact areas) to make your communication more efficient.
Entertainment. The service also allows the user to connect to a wide range of entertainment and media including music, games, photos and videos. This is done primarily through apps.
Mapping. The service includes a map-based system which allows for geotagging as well as selective sharing of your current location with people who you’d like to know where you are.

Why Some People are Unimpressed with the New Vodafone 360 Handsets

A lot of people who are reporting on Vodafone’s new handsets and 360 service are rather unimpressed with the announcement. The main complaint isn’t that there’s anything wrong with the service. It’s more of an attitude that ”yeah this is good stuff but so what?” A lot of people say that the new service offered by Vodafone is a service that we’re already seeing on other handsets from the iPhone to the latest O2 phones. The address book seems fairly advanced but it’s right on par with what other companies offer or are starting to offer. These new releases by Vodafone seem designed merely to keep the company in the game and to keep current customers happy rather than to wow the world and attract new customers. In other words, the general consensus seems to be that these new handsets are interesting and it’ll be great to see what Vodafone does with this service in the future but it’s not huge news to most mobile phone lovers.

The Real News: More about the LiMo Platform

So if everyone’s suggesting that there isn’t real news here then why should you pay attention to Vodafone’s new 360 service phones? The answer lies in a line of the announcement which reveals that both phones are set to run off of the LiMo Foundation platform. That is a big deal. One of the biggest trends in mobile phone handset development right now is the trend towards open source software for mobile phones. An open source phone platform allows handset makers to use a hardware-independent operating platform to create phones that customers can make far more personalized than ever before.

Open source phones are the way of the mobile future. We’ve seen some movement in this direction with the release of the Google Android platform. However LiMo is a big name in this industry too. Their system is based on a Linux operating system which is especially appealing to people who are already interested in the open source movement. (Learn all about LiMo’s open source mobile phones from our previous article.) This is fairly cutting-edge stuff as far as mobile phone handset development goes. So while it may be true that Vodafone’s 360 service and mediocre new handsets aren’t exactly newsworthy; the fact that both phones are operating on the LiMo platform suggests that Vodafone may be further along in the future of the mobile industry than people see at first glance. It is expected that Verizon Wireless and other companies will be releasing new handsets based on this platform soon but Vodafone is ahead of much of the competition in this area so far.

More Details about the Release of Vodafone’s New 360 Phones

The new 360 service from Vodafone will actually be available on a number of different handsets. However it is the two new phones from Samsung that are supposed to offer the best user experience for people interested in this service. The phones will be released first in Europe (in eight different countries) and will be available before the end of the year. There isn’t an official release date on these phones yet but it is said that the H1 will be released first (in time for holiday shoppers to buy it) and that it will be followed shortly thereafter by the release of the M1. People interested in trying out the newest LiMo platform should certainly follow these announcements.

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