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The New New Carrier Deck

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motorola-cliq.jpgThere are no longer any doubts that T-Mobile has hitched its smartphone bandwagon to Google’s Android operating system. The company today said that it will be selling four Android-powered handsets to its (current and potential) customers during the vital holiday season. It is clear T-Mobile is hoping to sell a lot of smartphones. As part of its push, the company is making some plans regarding applications and application discovery. Here are some excerpts from their email pitch sent earlier today:

With the introduction of the T-Mobile myTouch 3G, T-Mobile created T-Mobile AppPack on Android Market, which features select 3rd party and T-Mobile made apps. T-Mobile recently refreshed AppPack with new, suggested applications – 34 apps in all, including a mix of free and paid apps. Later this month, the company will take this a step further by introducing a T-Mobile Channel on Android Market (that will be live by Thanksgiving), and Android Market (including the T-Mobile Channel) will soon feature carrier billing making it easier and more streamlined for customers with T-Mobile Android devices to purchase their favorite applications.

When I read that pitch, the first thing that came to my mind: hey isn’t that what the carrier decks of yore really used to be?

Carriers playing godfather to the fortunes of small companies in exchange for some baksheesh. Apps placed by them on the deck was how start-ups fortunes were decided. Carrier decks also were a way to sell premium applications and services. So how are T-Mobile channel and T-Mobile App Pack any different than the carrier deck? My inner skeptic says: not much!

Any thoughts folks?

7 Responses to “The New New Carrier Deck”

  1. Adam Somer

    This seems more like a hybrid model where their deck is just one of the channels within the far more accessible marketplace.

    Isn’t that really what the iPhone’s app store is? The only difference being the company that controls the deck. Apple instead of AT&T. Apple took the control away from AT&T and lowered the fence so that more developers can get in, but they still list “featured” applications (think of it as an inner compound with its own fence) and those are the ones that get all the exposure, just like with a carrier deck.

    This is just another case of one overlord jockeying for position with another. In the end, the users win as long as the perimeter fence isn’t raised again and there is no indication that anyone is pushing for that to happen. No one has to enter the “inner compound” if they don’t want to.

  2. It seems like a way to have a platform provider support the backoffice processes of managing an App store. As many developers used to beg for access to billing APIs before being offered to a select few, it seems that this path may help streamline monetization. It highlights that there is a need for some type of platform to be able to manage users, share customer service issues, and that the Platform providers may begin to build features specifically to make sure that the carriers offer these smartphones to consumers at relatively lower rates in the hopes that they are able to entice partners and continue the momentum as the race to have as many apps on the phone as there are websites for your browser heats up.

  3. It strikes me that the big carriers still don’t understand or want to embrace the apps model. Hence the “approved” apps list, which does remind one of the days of yore. At the recent Sprint dev conference there was some moaning and groaning about the idea of thousands of apps and “how does anyone make money if there are thousands of apps?”

    Without a benevolent dictator like Apple to drive the development, how long will it take for apps to gain traction on Android, etc.? Or will the apps succeed in spite of the operators?