Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Here's Another Non-Original Idea: Call The "app store" Vodafone live!

BusinessWeek & Electricpig both covered an announcement yesterday from mammoth global carrier group Vodafone that they plan to pile on the industry trend of flattering Apple by creating their own version of an app store (distinguished by being lowercase, dontchasee). Voda, which claims 289mil customers in 27 countries, will begin rolling an SDK to developers/publishers this summer. Their apps will support multiple handsets and geo-targeting using network information (as opposed to GPS)...and feature a 70/30 revenue split (yes, in the developer's favor).

So why is this news? Hasn't Vodafone featured applications on its decks for well over 5 years now? I must say that this only further illustrates the genius of's not that they invented mobile applications, it's just that they actually figured out a way to get consumers excited about them. It's the same thing they did with the MP3 player...Creative & Samsung had tons of models on the market years before the iPod, but you'd think Apple had invented the concept in 2001 because they made the device and the experience sexy. For years the carriers have buried applications (many of them very cool) in their decks and done very little to promote them to their consumers (in my previous role I used to refer the Applications category as "The Dead Zone"). Then, to add insult to injury they would take ~50% of the scant revenue they generated before passing it back to the publishers.

Anyhow, it sounds like those days will soon be history and all the carriers will soon re-brand their content offerings as "app stores" and be giving publishers/developers a better split...which is a good thing. However, these applications aren't going to generate any more revenue (or excitement) unless the carriers commit to merchandising these services and products to their customer base. Being a good merchant of content is a non-trivial task!

One last thought...I am beginning to become a bit concerned about the proliferation of app store SDKs. One of the key contributors to the sick ecosystem of mobile content has been the relatively high cost of development due to the lack of standardization across devices and networks (device porting & testing are costly & time-consuming). Games or applications that are distributed to carriers worldwide can now have well in excess of 1,000 ports. If every carrier in the world and every handset manufacturer creates its own app store with its own distinct SDK matters aren't going to get better anytime soon. What will happen, is that the best developers/publishers will pick and choose which app stores to support based on consumer traction. Apple and....

1 comment:

  1. AT&T is re-branding MEdia Mall as AppCentral. Good call J!