Vine to bear mobile 2.0 fruit

Thanks to an introduction by Wireless Foundry founder Ian Wood, I met up with Daniel Appelquist of Vodafone Research & Development.

Daniel is a web veteran having worked at Vizzavi and the UK arm of TheStreet.com during the first wave of web businesses and services.

He is currently working on an interesting public facing project at the moment that deserves more attention. Vodafone’s R&D lab has built an ‘open collaborative R&D space for mobile and internet communications’ called Vodafone Beta Vine, think Y!DN for a wireless world.

The community is at an early stage of development, but developers have already uploaded a number of applications for a range of mobile devices.

The site is designed to reach a broad church of developers including S60, UIQ, Windows Mobile and wireless connected PCs. There are plans to open up APIs on things like SMS communications, but before you get all excited about having a free-to-air SMS marketing platform – messages will be licensed on a credit system and more credits can be requested from the site administrators. This allows web entrepreneurs to try out services before committing to go with an aggregator like Bango, making the site ideal for developers who want to follow in the footsteps of Twitter and provide services across multiple web and mobile platforms.

Dialogue amongst the contributors is facilitated with an in-built blogging platform and a common-sense ToC to help prevent spamming or puerile flame wars.

Daniel told me about the features that they were putting in to allow developers to choose a licence for their application at the click of a button or upload their own license. Vodafone isn’t claiming ownership of the code, and if they wanted to; rivals Orange (France Telecom) Hutchison or O2 (Telefonica) could participate as well.

The site is Vodafone’s way of dipping its toe into the water of community, UGC and web 2.0 services and is a small but significant step forward. Developers participation is a way of sending the ‘come on in, the waters nice and warm’ message to the corporate powers-that-be.

It sounds as if they are doing it not a minute too soon, management consultancy Arthur D. Little claimed that telcos should ignore mobile web 2.0 at their peril.