Choosing a single, global tagline is a tricky proposition – it may not sum up how a company really behaves, but it certainly gives an idea of how it wants to be seen by consumers. What does the upcoming launch of the new cross-device mobile application service Vodafone 360, and a brand new slogan that reads “Power to you” tell us? That not only does Vodafone want to be seen as the operator that is putting choice and variety in the hands of the consumer, but that it wants to take applications out of the hands of manufacturers like Apple.
Mobile app store:
Vodafone 360 is meant to be more than just an app store. Hence the “360″ appellation, indicating that it is meant to encompass all the new aspects of having a mobile device. Specifically, keeping in touch and accessing applications. It has been designed to replace the now somewhat old-fashion Vodafone Live services, and seems to have touch-screens and smartphones at its centre.
So, there are two main parts to the 360 services. The social networking angle is handled by Vodafone People, which is a network/contacts aggregator. People isn’t anything hugely new, really. It’s very similar to the Yahoo Pulse service launched at MWC, a type of service that is becoming more and more common. It combines all of the networking feeds and mobile contacts for your friends into one view – so you can see their updates across Twitter, Facebook, SMS and more on one screen:
Then there’s the new application shop. Vodafone wants developers to be able to distribute apps to every single device on a Vodafone network from one central location. And since developers were armed long in advance with a set of APIs and SDKs for this, it should have a healthy does of updated apps for launch.
Revealed in a Sunday Times interview with Vodafone Chief Executive Vittorio Colao, Vodafone is changing it’s global slogan in a major rebranding push. It has dropped the four year old “make the most of now” tag to go with “Power to you”. The new slogan underpins the drive of Vodafone in trying to switch mobile owners to smartphones instead of feature phones. Colao said “It is not the brand talking any more and telling the customer what to do. It is the customer who will decide. I am trying to steer the whole company in this direction.”
According to the interview, we should start seeing this tagline from Vodafone within the next 6 weeks.
What we think?
What does Vodafone mean by “power to you?” Simply that it is very well aware of just how much the iPhone has changed the way people look at the mobile devices. It is no longer just about how the hardware specs of a device – the selection of apps is just as important now. “What you can do with your phone” has become as hot an area as “what your phone can do”. Vodafone 360 isn’t just about people using applications, it is fundamentally about how people relate to their operators.
After all, Vodafone is one of the founding members behind the Joint Innovation Lab. This is a joint effort between Vodafone, colossal Chinese operator China Mobile and Japanese SOFTBANK – with Verizon joining earlier this year. The purpose of the JIL is to exploit the growing mobile internet services market, and from an early stage Vodafone was focused on mobile widgets and applications. So this gets me back to “how people relate to their operators”. Vodafone wants to be the one that consumers come to when they need an app – NOT their phone maker. The core concept is that any device on a Vodafone network should run Vodafone apps. A Blackberry owner and an iPhone owner should both be able to access the same store and run the same application – with no need for extra effort on behalf of the developer. And because it’s an operator running this store, consumers wouldn’t need a credit card to buy apps; they could just tag the cost onto their monthly bill.
360 is potentially a devastatingly powerful service. But the new, emerging world of mobile services is still volatile, and there’s no guarantee of success.