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Vodafone launches Android Market channel

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Vodafone has launched its own brand content channel in the Android marketplace.

Vodafone said it has become the first company in Europe to launch an ‚own brand‚ content channel in Android Market, which will offer customers ‚a regularly updated selection of Vodafone services as well as the best news, sport, information and gaming apps, all sourced from Vodafone’s global and local partnerships, often on an exclusive, free or discounted basis.‚ The channel is already live in the UK, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Spain, with launches planned for Greece, Ireland and Portugal. Lee Epting, Content Services Director at Vodafone Group, said: ‚More than 75 million Vodafone customers around the world are regularly using the mobile internet, and we are committed to giving them the best possible experience. This focus on quality over quantity helps deliver on that commitment.‚

Last year, Vodafone told Mobile Apps Briefing that ‚a lot‚ of the developers it works with preferred the operator’s own store to Android Market, due to the greater app recommendation and monetisation possibilities it offers. However, Android Market certainly has significant mindshare among both developers and consumers, and a branded channel enables Vodafone to leverage this while maintaining a degree of control over the content it offers to subscribers. With Google keen to address fragmentation among the Android community, it also removes the need for Vodafone-sold devices to support more than one app store.

According to UK technology website thinq, the store is only available to Vodafone customers with a handset using a Vodafone build of Android, and not for devices with a non-operator customised version of the platform ‚ even if using a Vodafone SIM card for connectivity. Vodafone has previously irked users with its bespoke versions of Android, which led to the installation of a range of unwanted software promoting services from Vodafone and its partners ‚ including links to dating sites.

While Vodafone may be the first European operator to support its own content channel on Android Market, T-Mobile USA led the way with the introduction of its own channel some time ago, supported by operator billing. Earlier this year, Sony Ericsson announced the launch of its own Android Market channel, which it described as ‚an operator dependent feature‚ ‚ meaning it is likely to be usurped by Vodafone’s new channel on devices sold via this operator.

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