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Vodafone Wants to Take a Bite Out of Apple's App Store

vodafone-logoVodafone (s VOD) today has followed in the footsteps of other carriers concerned about becoming a dumb pipe by unveiling plans for an application store. But the details provided by Reuters have me questioning the success of the venture. First, Vodafone is taking a 30 percent cut of the revenue for all apps, which is what Apple charges, and is pretty close to the 33 percent or 40 percent that phone companies charged app makers in the pre-Apple (s aapl) days. That seems like a lot for a me-too product that developers will be skeptical of.

There’s also the question of the user experience and app discovery. The App Store nailed the user experience — and that’s why it is so successful. Technically savvy consumers want to buy the iPhone; they want to download the apps (and lots of them), and developers don’t mind giving up a cut of their sales to build for the platform. It’s hard to imagine that Vodafone, even with the promise of attracting millions of potential users, can make its app store as sexy.

However, the company is giving it a try. The plan is to launch the store in a variety of European markets before the end of the year. Developers will build their apps using a Vodafone-supplied program that will ensure an app runs on any Vodafone device — giving the app a large potential user base. The carrier is also working to extend the app store to its partners including Verizon Wireless (s VZ), in which it owns a 45 percent stake. The other two enticements for developers are direct billing of a subscriber through the carrier and access to Vodafone’s network information, including a subscriber’s location. Direct billing might enable easier micro-payments for items, and the location information might save developers the cost of attempting to access the location using a database service.

And in the case of dueling app stores, like what may be found on Nokia (s NOK)  phones on Vodafone’s network, the carrier said that the users decide which one they want to use. That’s actually pretty open-minded coming from a carrier. If these stores are well-designed, and carriers are really ready to provide a good experience for both consumers and developers, carriers may boost their bottom lines, and we may see some nice applications. However, it’s still likely that P2P and VoIP apps won’t be among them.

20 Responses to “Vodafone Wants to Take a Bite Out of Apple's App Store”

  1. Bala Nataraj

    If I can re-phrase a cliche & send it to Vodafone (in good humor), it’d be “It’s the Device, Stupid..” If Apple’s model has shown something, it is : Things start “happening” around the right script (device) first, then comes the App Stor(y). Cheers!

  2. I have a bigger question if Operator will allow all applications to be solved on their store. I seriously doubt that.

    We are symbian developer and few days back launched our first application ‘Gailoo Tune’ ( This application provides features (Caller tune – for first time as software application & Voicemail/answering machine) that Service providers provide on additional charges to users. Though Voicemail is generally free for contract but not free for pay as you go. We would be very happy to sell application on Vodafone store and share 30% revenue but will vodafone allow our application….We will try at least:)

  3. I’m no expert but surely most developers will just develop for the app store unless their code can be easily ported to other handsets. The only way this will change is if Vodafone get a handset that people want more than the iPhone.