On October 29, Vodafone launched its new 360 service, which also includes an app store. 360 launched in Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain and the UK and will be followed by launches in a number of other countries in 2010, including India, Turkey, South Africa, New Zealand, Romania and France.
Right now, the 360 Application and Games Shop is only available for owners of the Vodafone 360 Samsung H1 phone. Curious how the store looks? Well, here is a video from the Vodafone Help Centre that gives a good impression:
A few takes from the video:
- The store offers Games, Apps, Music, Ringtones and Videos;
- Vodafone presents featured items per content category;
- Content is browsable based on Best rated, Most recent, Most downloaded, Recommended or various sub-categories (e.g. Gaming-Sports);
- Games and Applications have a description, screenshots and user ratings.
What is not displayed in the video is how a consumer can pay for his purchases. Vodafone has a direct billing relationships with its customers for voice, SMS and data. This billing relationship is utilized in the Shop. For customers that have a monthly contract, the costs cost of any content item they buy will be added to the monthly bill. For pay as you go customers, the cost of any content item will be deducted from the available credit.
Next to the content presented in the video, Vodafone will also enter a segment that not many of the other major stores have: Adult Content. See this section from the Vodafone 360 FAQ:
Is there adult content for sale in Shop?
Currently no, but it’s coming soon to some countries. Adult content will appear as a sub-category within the main content categories like Games and Apps.
How do I access adult content?
In most countries where it’s available, you’ll need a Personal Identification Number (PIN) to access the adult content. When you try to access content that’s rated as “adult”, you’ll be prompted to enter the PIN. A PIN is not required in every country however. Specifically, in the Spanish market, you simply need to confirm your age to gain access. To block content for younger users, you need to contact Vodafone Customer Services.
Adult Content has been present on several operator decks for years. Until now, the major app stores out there have stayed away from this. Apple has been pulling several adult content items from the App Store, though quite a selection of items in the store are not that different from adult content.
Will Vodafone be the only store allowing Adult Content? Probably not. Restrictions for younger users then becomes an important issue. Vodafone will use a PIN code in most countries to verify your age, which in most cases they can check with your subscription. However, like Vodafone notes, in some countries a user only has to confirm his age to remove any content restrictions.
The Vodafone app store is just getting started and it will be interesting to see where it will go. The billing relationship with consumers definitely offers big potential. We will keep you posted as the store becomes available for more consumers, and more content is added.