Vodafone And Softbank Act Like Friends
Having just closed the sale of its Japanese unit to Softbank, Vodafone has announced it’s set up a joint venture with the company that will develop handset software and hardware. Despite no longer having a commercial interest in the country, Vodafone wants to maintain an R&D presence there, which will allow it to keep tabs on the advanced market, while also take advantage of the innovation the JV develops for it. Part of Vodafone’s motivation in buying J-Phone several years ago was to export its new technologies and ideas to other Vodafone units around the world, as it did with Vodafone Live!, which was based on the J-Sky content system, as well as the use of carrier-branded white-label handsets, one of the hallmarks of the Japanese mobile market. This move makes a lot more sense for Vodafone than hanging on to its struggling Japanese carrier; it’s also smart for Softbank because it will allow it to better leverage Vodafone’s existing relationships with device manufacturers, something that will be very important as it tries to turn the unit around.