Vodafone has officially announced details of its new Internet services initiative, ‘Vodafone 360,’ the UK-based operator’s answer to rival services such as Apple’s App Store and Nokia’s Ovi. Vodafone 360 aims to gather all of a customer’s friends, communities, entertainment and personal favorites (like music, games, photos and video) in one place. Central to the service is a connected address book – known as ‘Vodafone People’ – which automatically synchs all contacts from a customer’s phone, social networks (such as Facebook) and other Internet messaging services such as Microsoft’s Windows Live Messenger and Google Talk. A catalogue of 1,000 applications is available at launch downloadable through the Vodafone Shop. The service is automatically backed-up and synchronised between the mobile and a PC or Mac. “Vodafone 360 is the first service of its kind to offer customers the benefits of a truly integrated mobile Internet experience that gathers all their contacts and content, all around them, in one place,” said Pieter Knook, director of Internet Services at Vodafone.

In a statement, Vodafone said that “the full Vodafone 360 experience” will be available initially on two specially-built handsets designed by Samsung. The proprietary User Interface on Vodafone 360 mobiles is based on the Linux-based LiMo platform. Vodafone added that a further four Nokia Symbian smartphones will come pre-loaded with Vodafone 360 at launch and that part or all of the service will be downloadable to over one hundred popular phones. Vodafone 360 will be rolled-out in eight of Vodafone’s European markets this year (Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain and the UK). Further launches penciled in for 2010 include India, Turkey, South Africa, New Zealand, Romania, France (via SFR), Russia (via MTS) and Australia (via Vodafone Hutchison Australia).