Seeing one phone manufacturer after another announce their application store was starting to become boring, until Vodafone announced their own app store. Of course, the obvious reason why this is different is that Vodafone is an operator, not a phone manufacturer. This means that we are going out of boring silos, with a more interesting transversal store.
Well, maybe not, or at least not immediately. In order to be really interesting, these applications will be able to use specific Vodafone APIs, which means that they will only work on specific Vodafone-branded phones: pop, another silo!
Whatever happens, this remains an interesting novelty. Once they have an application store, Vodafone is quite likely to look for any possible extension of the store, and they may end up competing with some other app stores. In addition, other operators may follow, like China Telecom, who seems to be really interesting in a branded store.
And finally, I have not looked yet in details at the Vodafone app model, but it seems to be widget-based, and the home page for developers has pointers to the W3C Widget spec. If Vodafone starts supporting standards, the game could become really interesting, since standards are likely to be accepted on many phones.