Vodafone discontinues bespoke 360 handsets; H2 cancelled

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If you recall a few weeks ago I posted an exclusive from the Vodafone 360 team announcing the upcoming arrival of the Vodafone 360 Samsung H2. I’d taken a look at the H2 and found it a rather nice improvement on the Samsung H1 (the original top-end 360 handset).

Well, I’ve got some news straight from the lion’s den at the 360 team: No more H2.

In fact, no more bespoke 360 handsets.

Henceforth Vodafone is going to focus on enhancing the 360 services rather than worrying about it’s own bespoke handsets.

Here is the formal statement from the company:

Vodafone’s core strategy remains to offer the best range of smartphones in all markets in which we compete. We have decided to accelerate our Vodafone 360 services strategy, making 360 services available on as many devices as we can as soon as we can. From now 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. Consequently there will be no further development of bespoke Vodafone 360 handsets, and activity on the H2 ceases with immediate effect.

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 as possible on as many platforms. Today Vodafone 360 is available across a wide range of over 100 handsets and on 5 platforms and this will continue to expand going forward.

On one hand I feel this is quite a shame, because I did identify with the broader strategy (if not necessarily the precise implementation along the way). I liked the vertical concept of owning the hardware, the services, the network and of course, the customer experience. But, as I have pointed out many a time, if you’re going to do this, you need to do it properly and with full conviction — and the necessary resources.

I think it’s a good step for the company. I think it makes sense to ship the responsibility for hardware design back to the OEMs rather than have the Vodafone teams obsessing over it. The H2 was always going to be compared to the rest of the company’s range — and goodness me, it must have been a challenge deciding over handsets to push in a given month. Do you push the company’s own H1/M1 360 phones? Or do you push the latest Sony or Nokia? Lots of questions and lots of problems.

So services is the way ahead. They’ve already been doing a lot of work spreading 360 across all the major platforms they support. Here’s an example:

That’s the Vodafone 360 implementation on the Sony Ericisson X10 Mini-pro (as I saw it, pre-release, a few weeks ago). As you can see, you’ve got the 360 shop, updates, music shop, apps and so on all available at a touch of a button.

In the coming months, expect to see almost every capable Vodafone ranged handset to come preinstalled with an array of 360 services such as those above.

The challenge now Vodafone? Get it right. I don’t mean half-right. I don’t mean almost-there. I don’t mean ‘leave at 4.30pm’ and do a sort-of-ok job. Let’s see best-in-class. You’ve got the right people, good resources and a phenomenal brand to work with. Brilliance and nothing but, please.

Push the boat out.

Show us what you can do. And really, really augment the OEM efforts. I want to see consumers purchasing a Vodafone Nokia N8, for example, rather than an o2 Nokia N8, *because* of all the cool stuff offered by the Vodafone 360 services.

It’s a big ask. You can do it.

(Read: You’ve got no excuse now.)

[ Excuse me whilst I go and stick my head in a bucket of cold water now. I'm not used to exhibiting positivity when it comes to Vodafone 360. Give it 6 months and I hope we'll see some seriously good results. Otherwise I'll need a job lot of sleeping pills. ]

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  • http://twitter.com/teknolog Sebastian Brannstrom

    Ewan, do you see this succeeding? How many times have the operators tried to push a bundle of services, and fail horribly, terribly, embarrassingly?

    Myself, I just don't see this happening.

  • http://www.mobileindustryreview.com Ewan

    Sebastian, the concept is entirely possible. Whether the Vodafone team can deliver? Well, I think you're entirely correct that operators have a really, really poor track record doing so. I think focusing just on services (and not hardware) should make the job easier for Vodafone. But it's tricky. It has to be done 'right'. There's a serious, serious risk that they will end up doing the best they can be bothered to, rather than doing their best.

  • John

    Interesting contrast with what MS are doing with windows 7 mobile:
    http://www.hexus.net/content/item.php?item=25640

  • Tim

    Sorry, Telco's simply cannot do this, it is not in their DNA. And Vodafone is not a global company, but a group of individual national operating companies each with their own market. Vodafone Group services actually doesn't have any customer base at all…

    6 months from now, 360 will be gone too…

  • Mr. Storm

    hehehe…really…now thts great….now we get to see how much capable that guy who leads the client development (principal manager ..hehehe) is….he has already wasted good money on Windows development…and stopped it….symbian development…outsourced….blackberry/java development again outsourced to his acquaintance at mindboggling contract rates….Android development….a huge team of 9-10 developers and a SCUM(no i did not spell it wrong)…now this is what i call penny wise pound foolish…and still he will go on and on…the guy can't hold up his spine and give a speech properly.

  • Storm

    I think..its just not a Telco or Non Telco thing..they have some great developers capable of doing this…but.there seems to be no direction…the people who give directions are either so process oriented that they fail to understand something like this or are so technically knowledgable that they think its beyond their ego to take advice from developers who have been working on these for day in and out.

  • Oleg Penkowski

    Now…Vodafone will become that bitpipe they were always afraid to become. What do they have left? Some mediocre applications ('people' is ok but not at all mind blowing or revolutionary) and some hardware to extend connectivity at home…and…bad price-plans.

    Vodafone had a great team of developers,researchers, designers and UE experts mainly in Duesseldorf (Germany) but over time they were all made redundant and or are now led by below avarage managers without standing or vision (another guy who can't hold his spine up (thanks Storm)).
    Everybody who's been in the business long enough knew, that H2 and M2 would again fail…another facebook client without commenting function (just to name one), no OpCo commitment and the previous bad press for H1/M1….

    Its really sad to see. Parts of the Duesseldorf team worked on a so called “horizontal adressbook” in 2004…mindblowing- better than anything out there today even, but never released… a classic in Vodafone: higher management does not see the value of their teammembers and their ideas.

  • Oleg Penkowski

    You mean G.A ? True…

  • Mr. Storm

    referring to E.W. dunno much about G.A…

  • AnonymousCoward

    VF has a great process for testing handsets and bringing them to market… but I have to agree with Tim… they have no DNA as a web and/or software development company.

    There is a basic lack of understanding of the software development lifecycle (from requirements through to delivery).

    Case in point being the 360 launch… you can't just launch when Marketing says when the whole system clearly wasn't ready…

  • Mr. Storm

    Cannot call what happened at Vodafone as a REDUNDANCY. Redundancy would mean the position or work related ceases to exist. But how are these guys justifying removing internal developers and replacing each one with double the number of contractors at 800 per day and more so some of them claim to work but are never doing anything.

    Here's a question for everyone who has done some coding. Two platforms/clients have the same codebase, preprocessing statements are used to make individual builds. Now think of this, Vodafone outsources one to a different company in UK and the portin of the other Client to another company in germany. a single team of 4 was replaced with 2 companies and many many more contractors. Can anyone justify this as redundancy?

    Couple of good and experienced developers in Copenhagen, UK and Dusseldorf lost their jobs for our spineless manager thinks its easy to outsource project rather to handle them on his own.

    And the only thing our champion knowall manager can say is “I will give u the best of references. I have a lot of contacts on LinkedIn, u know how well connected I am in the industry” (as if to say dont open your mouth about whats happenening or i'll mess ur career). He'll surely know me when he sees the above statements. was a very polite threat. hehehe, was close to showing him the finger. will surely do it soon. Send me some supporting replies, so i can build up the courage. hehehehe.

    Come on people. here's a chance to motivate someone to do something for the mankind :)

  • RoadRunner

    G.A will only be as good as his so called generals who handle all the technical stuff and give him some weird reasoning.
    if someday the so called Vodafone 360 cloud service is down and his generals tell him that the bright sunny day outside(no clouds) is to blame. I am sure he will scratch his head a bit, but will soon agree.
    G.A. has just sent a motivational mail to whole of the team. talking of the achievements of the team (“Our destiny is even more in our own hands to deliver”). I am fully motivated to change the course of destiny and set it straight.

  • AnonymousCoward

    As I said to Ewan a few months back… 360 was destined to fail from Day 1…

    <quote>
    “I think people underestimate how difficult it is to launch anything across 5-6 countries & languages simultaneous, especially with the back-end billing integration stuff so that you get it on your mobile phone bill, not entering your credit card number.

    Most websites tend to launch in ONE language (English normally) then add on other languages as they grow (360 tried to launch in 5 languages from Day 1). Most websites tend to launch and then grow organically, giving you a chance to tweak/refine/improve… but in 360 it had an immediate audience of VF customers who expected email/chat/social networking + phone to work AS GOOD AS the best examples in the market.

    • Email as good as Gmail + Hotmail + Yahoo!
    • Chat as good as Meebo, Fring etc to aggregate all the chat providers
    • Social networking as good as Facebook + Twitter + MySpace + Zing + etc
    • Photo sharing as good as Flickr

    If you think about it like that, and remember how ver1.0 of some of those services were far from perfect, you begin to understand what VF had bitten off… with no “track record” of having the internal capability to deliver such a complex software development they had to deliver their ver1.0 service that was as good as ver3 or 4 or 4 of these other services.

    </quote>

    Then you add in an AppStore as good as Apple. navigation from Wayfinder, address book sharing from Zyb, building out a data centre to host it (across both Windows & Unix platforms) etc etc…

    Even a highly experienced development house would choke on a project of that size.

    Never gonna happen.

  • RoadRunner

    The corruption is bigtime. Failure or not, Vodafone 360 is surely helping some individuals make some good money. Wouldn't be surprised if the contractors are sponsoring the honeymoon trips.

  • G Miller

    I think he's dutch…right?

  • Vodafone Coworker

    Oh no..if he only scratches his head..I saw him scratching other things.– Pulled th eplug…will now leave this shop of failures after half a dozen years…

  • GeneralPurpose

    did you have any contact to people in BB/ 3rd level? I wonder if I know you…. but anyway..worth showing him some fingers on that behaviour I would say. Its a Vodafone classic- outsourcing led UK to become one of the least profitable countries within the Vodafone Group, and now they do the same to the least standing Group think tank… I agree to Oleg (BTW google his name- its worth it!) this will make VF become a bitpipe within the next year…

  • 123

    if you believe there is corruption you should talk to internal audit or to HR rather than posting on internet.

  • Mr Storm

    hehehe pull the plug…funny. half a dozen year…maybe more…sure they'll try and squeeze as much time there as possible…after all its a free trip. Wonder if these guys would be a bit more conservative in terms of their business decisions if the money lost was paid from their own pockets.. Wouldn't it be fun. hehehe. Maybe doesn't matter VF can afford to keep paying some ***** who show no results for years. socialising and contacts is the key..

  • Mr Storm

    German I guess…he's got the NAZI trait…that “I am superior thing…knowall guy.”

  • Mr Storm

    Oh yeah…i tried to make it obvious…didn't i. want him to try and do what he said. might just give me the complete right to take things personally. then the real fun begins. Btw…last heard the client was released or about to be released. Imagine this the client was continously delayed 1 month…2 months and then 3 months…deadlines were missed by 3 months at a time. Never understood how this guy estimated..coz never as a developer I was asked or consulted (Have managed to do some estimation in my career as a mobile developer and lead so i know a tiny bit about porting and planning). So once I asked him how do u estimate..and he lost it. had no answers..he tried to blame it on his Scrum Master…and lead. was funny how he got aggressive when i tried to corner him. Am sure the truth is that..he's got a DartBoard at home with all the dates and months lined up and he shoots a dart whenever a new estimation is required :). and for some risk estimation he does it blindfolded. and Eureka…next day we had the new release dates. Scrum has a new competitor…The DART BOARD.

  • Amazed1234

    He once offered me a position with one of the same contractors. Sounded like a Pimp from one of those middle eastern countries. Had to go back and confirm his title and position then.

  • Oleg Penkowski

    well..I am not sure how Wendy will react..I assume that 360 will come to and end soon…you can't just burn money all the time…

  • Oleg Penkowski

    well..I once tried that..no reaction…

  • Oleg Penkowski

    oups..wendy gone..PK too…

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