Is this a sign of AT&T (NYSE: T) preparing for the day it loses its exclusive hold on the iPhone in the U.S.? The operator has become the latest carrier partner for GetJar, which runs a store that offers a catalog of 75,000 mobile apps covering just about every other major device – except Apple’s.
The AT&T agreement is the third for GetJar in North America, where it has had a long-running relationship with Sprint (NYSE: S) and a deal with Rogers Wireless. In an interview, GetJar’s CEO Ilja Laurs said that the deal makes the U.S. second-largest market – India is the first. Here’s what else he told me:
— Android apps downloaded in the GetJar store have doubled over the last year. “It’s at the expense of Java,” he said. “Java was dominant last year but that has completely changed.”
— While Android has had the most traffic North America and the UK; elsewhere Nokia (NYSE: NOK) is leading the pack. “Seventy percent of traffic in North America and the U.K. has been on smartphones; everywhere else feature phones make up 70 percent of the traffic, with Nokia Series 40 phones particularly strong in India.”
— GetJar’s business model is to charge app publishers for placement in the GetJar store, using a Google (NSDQ: GOOG) AdSense-type of model, rather than charge for apps. It also runs advertising within apps. GetJar is sharing with operators the revenue it makes off these services but Laurs would not specify the split.
— GetJar is seeing around 100 million downloads per month, still a far cry from Apple’s 300 million but more than Nokia’s 60 million per month.
The GetJar app, which gives users access to the store, is now live on AT&T’s AppCenter, and can be used on some 50 devices, ranging from feature phones to smartphones, that AT&T currently offers. iPhone users can theoretically still access the store via their phone’s web browser, but they cannot download the app.
Yet despite the continuing attention that publishers, operators and handset makers are giving to apps, there remain lingering questions about how effective apps really are for a business. A study released today from Harris Interactive and EffectiveUI found that 38 percent of mobile users surveyed have been disappointed with branded apps. A further 32 percent have told others about a bad experience with a mobile app, and 13 percent have avoided downloading applications from a brand name company or organization after a previous bad experience with another app from by that brand.