Oranges and Apples? Do they compare?
Orange continues its ambitious activities within mobile application development and provisioning by launching Orange App Shop. Initially, some 1.3 million Orange customers in France and UK will be able to use a special App Shop client in addition to previous WAP portal and web portal access for discovering, buying and downloading applications. From an end-user perspective this is a great step in packaging and visualising software-based experiences, similar to the somewhat familiar(…) Apple App Store. However, while potentially offering access to and for a large number of users in multiple countries and making mobile application consumption independent of credit cards, this storefront in itself does not solve the fragmentation problems driven by multiple OS and handset form factors. Also, from a developer perspective, there are some stumbling blocks in the details: An aggregator/distributor is engaged as a middle hand, each individual country operator has a say in accepting the application, the revenue sharing agreement is negotiated on a case-by-case basis and, currently, free applications are not available. Looking at lessons learned from Apple’s success, Northstream’s firm belief is that operators with App Store ambitions must focus on minimising the thresholds both for consumption and provisioning of applications. This includes ease of interaction, transparency and the ability to use ”try it, you may like it” mechanisms. As we wrote some days ago, due to their confined up-take area mobile operators are numerically disadvantaged when competing with the Apples and their likes for scales effects (on content, applications, brands, etc.) and therefore must find ways to make up by exploiting their own specific and unique differentiators. In the end, whether we talk fruit salads or mobile apps, it’s not the oranges or the apples that make the real difference, it’s the quality, look and feel of the accompanying cherries and berries.