Whatever happened to Vodafone 360?

 It’s a bit of a puzzle, really. 360 looked set to become Vodafone’s latest all-singing, all-dancing mobile online service. A kind of Vodafone Live! Mark II. Three months later, in Blighty it is still only available on three handsets.

TechEye is somewhat surprised by this given that the original Press puff said that, “At launch, four Nokia Symbian smartphones will come pre-loaded with Vodafone 360.”

What actually happened was that on launch, the service was available on 1.5 Samsung handsets. The Samsung H1 was there on time and the M1 turned up later.

Today, if you look at the Vodafone 360 site there are actually four Nokia handsets listed as being 360 compatible. The list includes the Nokia 6210MR; N85MR; N96MR; and the 6730.

Of those, only the 6730 is on sale in the UK. There are two versions of the 6730: – one is white ad the other is black. Er, that’s it.

Perhaps more perplexing was this other taster provided at the time of the 360 announcement, “Part or all of the service will be downloadable to over one hundred popular phones.

In the coming months Vodafone will be making the service available through as wide a selection of handsets and operating systems from multiple manufacturers as possible.”

Well, quite a few months have come and gone and there’s till no sign of that software. Which must be really cheesing off those handset owners who subscribed to a site called Zyb.

It was an addressbook synchronisation service mixed with a kind of mobile social network. The bizarre thing is that the Zyb site is still there, frozen in time since last September when Zyb effectively became ‘Vodafone People’ as a result of its acquisition by Vodafone.

If you click on the Zyb registration process, however, it now takes you straight to the Vodafone 360 web site.

Our suspicion is that all of this delay has something to do with ‘location’. Significantly the 6730 is listed as being, Vodafone ‘Find & Go’ compatible as well as being Vodafone ‘Sat Nav’ compatible. Not sure what the difference is.

The other point is that the 6730 is mentioned in the relatively short list of handsets for which Nokia suddenly made its Ovi Maps available for free. Curiously if you dig deeper, other Nokia GPS handsets can get Maps for free, too.

Techeye went oto the Ovi site and download the ‘Nokia Maps Updater’ software. This allows you to ‘side-load’ Nokia Maps onto a handset via the Nokia PC Suite. For some reason the system awarded our handset a free ten-day licence.

Something has obviously got to happen. Otherwise 360 will turn into another Vizzavi. Remember that?