Thursday, 14 May 2009

Vodafone and app stores - where do MNO's fit in?

By now we've all seen the news on Vodafone's push into the app market: the question here is whether MNO's have a role to play?

from out point of view at GetJar the answer is YES. We've proven this by tying up with the likes of 3UK, Smart, Cellcom and a number of others.

Even before Vodafone's announcement yesterday, we had already done a deal to have GetJar on Vodafone Ireland.

But operator's clearly have to recognize their strengths and weaknesses in deciding how to play the app store game.

Their strength is the trust behind their brand, relationship with consumers (particularly on the billing side) and the API's they potentially provide developers to help reduce the problem of fragmentation.

The weakness is in content management and really understanding what consumers truly want from apps. They aren't set up to manage the vast amount of content out there or even less the avalanche of content that is about to come. Witness the past 12 months. Most carriers have actually reduced the size of their content teams and the number of providers they deal with. Not the reverse. This results in less content for consumers and, perversely, less traffic from content.

The ideal scenario is for them to embrace an open model by encouraging the use of their API's, helping to distribute content both on portal and on the device but to leave the sourcing and management of content to those who really understand the business.

Let's hope they seize this opportunity and make it a win-win for everyone.