The announcement by Vodafone last week that it was going to launch its Vodafone 360 online aggregation mobile service on Linux Mobile, a little used mobile platform, left many puzzled and questioning Vodafone's plans.
The Linux for Mobile Foundation, otherwise known as LiMo, is backed by some of the biggest names in the industry but has seldom been in the limelight due partly to the fact that another open source mobile platform, Google's Android, has been sucking in all the attention.
Why did Vodafone choose LiMo? Well, for one, it has an open and transparent governance model, which means that unlike Symbian or Android, there are no leaders per se like Nokia or Google. All members are on an equal footing and vested interests are unlikely to exist.
Then there's the fact that Vodafone appears willing to strong-arm mobile phone manufacturers into doing just that, building great devices, without the willingness to start creating compelling platform (like Nokia with OVI or Apple with the iPhone).
Unlike many of its competitors, Vodafone has never been reluctant to launch its own branded mobile phones having sold more than 20 million units over the past few years. Lately new models have become more and more powerful.
Earlier in September, it confirmed that it would be launching eight mobile phones by the end of the year, adding to the existing 23 that were brought to market since Vodafone handsets came to market.
Ultimately, Vodafone could, like 3 Networks, create a similar venture to INQ Mobile dedicated to building great mobiles to suit its needs (rather than generic ones for the whole of the market).
Vodafone currently offers a vision of the future that's only matched by Apple's. Betavine and Vodafone 360 are ahead of the competition as far as we can see. The only thing missing are great platforms for deliver the vision, something more like Apple but not from the Cupertino-based company. The first two handsets though are very good examples of what can be achieved.