Vodafone 360 Takes on Apple, Google, Nokia, Microsoft…

Vodafone is making a lot of press in mobile this week. Today’s news is all abuzz with Vodafone’s new social internet service dubbed “Vodafone 360” that looks a little like Nokia’s recently-launched Ovi. Vodafone’s offering includes cloud address books, full-track music downloads, an app store, and social networking integration, hoping the buzz will push its brand to the forefront of the mobile race.

Vodafone also just announced the launch two Linux-based phones from Samsung — one featuring a “multitouch” screen, which lets users either press a physical button or tap the screen (not so much a multitouch phone, but we’ll let that one slide for now.) These phones, and others, will feature the 360 technology.

Vodafone, like competitor Nokia, is sponsoring a competition to find the best mobile widgets, offering developers the chance to win €100,000 in prize money. Because what’s a well-designed app store worth with no apps to sell?

What’s equally exciting about Vodafone’s latest push for publicity is its work in the music world, announcing that it will offer DRM-free downloads from the four major record labels. Yes, legally.

Vodafone customers also have access to a special “top 40” list that updates in real time, plus freebies and exclusive deals. For example, today only, customers can download 10 free music tracks. On Tuesday, Vodafone added over 1 million tracks courtesy of a fourth record label, Warner Music, to the existing tracks offered DRM-free from Universal Music Group (UMG), Sony Music and EMI.