Vodafone to unveil software product

Vodafone Group plans to introduce mobile phone handsets with its own software for a new suite of higher-speed data services.

Vodafone Group plans to introduce mobile phone handsets with its own software for a new suite of higher-speed data services.

The Vodafone Live! software will be an "out-of-the-box" product that is "ready to use and easy to use", said a Vodafone spokewoman.

The software will support new data services such as Multimedia Messaging Service (MMS), gaming and location finding. The wireless operator will, initially, launch the software on handsets in Europe and later take it to Japan.

The move comes as European mobile operators struggle to kick-start the new but challenging market for packet-switched mobile communication services over GPRS and 3G networks.

With the launch of Vodafone Live!, Vodafone plans to abandon its Vizzavi-branded mobile content offering, which it acquired from Vivendi Universal.

Rival T-Mobile International has already begun to put its name on a new range of PDA phones and plans to have its logo appear on many more products. The move reflects a strategy similar to that of its parent company, Deutsche Telekom, which sells a wide variety of phones, faxes, modems and more under its own brand name.

"We want to differentiate ourselves from the competition, not only with our services and support, but also with handsets that are made exclusively for us," a T-Mobile spokesman said. "We believe that vendor names will gradually be pushed in the background."

The branding strategy, according to the spokesman, should foster greater customer loyalty. "We want our customers to see that everything is coming from one source," he said.

In the future, T-Mobile will require its suppliers to customise handsets, the spokesman said. "We're Germany's biggest mobile operator and one of the largest in the world. That gives us some purchasing power."

The company has said it has no intention of developing its own software. "Our strategy is to collaborate with established software companies and develop software that meets our needs and those of our customers," he said.

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