Mobile Phone Operator Vodafone could be looking at building a whole ecosystem single handedly with the announcement today of the Vodafone 360 initiative complete with rebadged online services and corresponding smartphones
The launch today represents one more attempt to fragment the mobile web a little more and goes in the opposite direction of the likes of Google's Android or even Microsoft's Windows Mobile but this time, it is slightly different.
Vodafone has access to more than 1.1 billion mobile phone users via the Joint Innovation Labs, a joint venture between Vodafone, Verizon Wireless, China Mobile and Softbank Mobile. Ths provides the operator with some clout and influence that even Apple doesn't have.
Social networking and access to your contact list will be at the centre of Vodafone's pitch. It is not surprising therefore to find out that it will be providing Vodafone People to more than one hundred devices, regardless of the network they're on.
This includes the iPhone via an App store application that is still in development and that will have to be accepted by Apple and O2 - which in all honesty is very unlikely.
In its simplest form, Vodafone 360 is a smart mashup of information from various sources including Facebook, Twitter, Windows Live Messenger and Google Talk with a particular emphasis on integration.
Ultimately, Vodafone wants to make it a tightly integrated environment, another layer, that should be capable of running on any operating system and will try to tie the user to the network, rather than to their mobiles.
Vodafone arguably wants to emulate Apple's success albeit on a global scale but then, as Rory Cellan Jones of BBC puts it, "Have you ever met someone who identifies himself or herself as a Vodafone fan - rather than a Google groupie, a Machead or a Windows true believer?"
Vodafone reminds us of the good old times when AOL or Compuserve wanted everyone else to use their service, providing us with their own versions of everything, from chat rooms to email inboxes. Ultimately, with the arrival of the likes of Yahoo and Google, the "walled garden" approach failed miserably and they just disappeared. Interestingly, Vodafone is a member of Google's Open Handset Alliance but decided to launch a LiMo handset instead.