Posts Tagged ‘Ovi’
[This is a repost of my guest article at Vision Mobile’s blog]
2009 was the year of the app store wannabes. Following the remarkable success of the Apple App Store, OEMs, mobile platform vendors, mobile operators, and traditional aggregators either created new app stores or repositioned their existing offerings as app stores. There are now between 24 to 32 app stores depending on who is counting (see Distimo’s app store report and the WIP App Store Wiki for reference), and more stores are surely to follow. However, key questions remain about how the app store landscape will emerge after the current period of hysteria subsides and the dust settles.
– Are we going to see many app stores on each handset?
– Will app malls emerge to host multiple app stores within?
– Will operator stores gain critical mass?
[Or will we see a “no app store” future as proposed by Matt Millar via the comment thread?]
Andreas Constantinou wrote an excellent article that defines the app store building blocks and predicts a “dime-a-dozen” app store future. I will build on this post, but will offer an alternative view of how the landscape will evolve.
It’s a Winner-Take-All Contest
I just participated in a panel discussion representing developer needs from operators. The panel was moderated by Alan Qualye who kicked off the panel with the question:
If you could have one wish to make working with a operator easier, what would that wish be?
Having worked with many developers I have many wishes, but my top wish for operators is simply to LISTEN to developers. And by this, I mean to really listen, prioritize their requirements, and take action.
Only a year ago operators had a virtual monopoly for distribution of mobile applications and developers had to beg to get on deck. It was difficult to get on deck, it was expensive to get certified on every handset, revenue share was low, and it was difficult to stay on deck because discovery by consumers was difficult.
But the tables have been turned now. Competition for developers is at an all-time high. Handset OEMs, OS players, development tool vendors, social networks, game consoles, operators, infra providers are all luring developers. In fact, many developer programs have even created multimillion dollar funds to subsidize developers for their platform (such as the $10M Open Screen Project Fund my team and I set up for Adobe with Nokia).
Once upon a time operator branded app stores were thought to be doing well. After all, lots of games, screen savers, and ring tones were being downloaded on mass market feature phones. Qualcomm bragged about its thriving developer community and Verizon’s Get it Now store was a good case study in the industry.
Unlike the poor attempts thus far to launch a device that truly rivals the iPhone, the battle of the app stores is proving to be much more competitive and will require responses from Apple to maintain it’s advantage. Already Nokia announced plans to improve on the App Store with by leveraging location and the social graph to discover more relevant applications. Now RIM has raised the bar in a number of key areas as well. All this while operators sit on the sidelines watching the app opportunity slowly move away from their own walled gardens to OEM branded stores.