Turns out it’s not only the native app stores from Apple (NSDQ: AAPL) and Android/Google (NSDQ: GOOG) that get a little hot under their collars when they sense competition from those publishing apps in their app markets. Today GetJar announced that it has rejected the Opera Mini browser from its cross-platform app store. The announcement comes one day after Opera launched its own web-based app store. [story below is updated with comments from GetJar]
The news was first reported by GetJar itself in a tweet earlier this morning:
“Due to violations of our T&C’s Opera Mini has been banned from GetJar. Download Bolt, UCweb, Dolphin, Layar or Sqauce and others as needed,” said the note.
We have reached out to GetJar and Opera for some clarification but it appears for now that the violation refers to Opera’s own app store. GetJar responded to another tweet asking why: “[Opera] placed an app store in their browser. One thing we can’t do is promote competing app stores.”
Like GetJar’s app store, the Opera Mobile Store, launched late on Monday night, is available through mobile browsers rather than as a standalone app. The store, built on the white-label app store offering from Appia — formerly known as PocketGear and backed by Eric Schmidt, among others — lets Opera leapfrog into the app market with some 140,000 apps from the moment of launch. Opera is also offering a portal for developers to upload further apps. Currently the store has apps for all major mobile platforms except Apple’s.
Opera potentially has a captive audience for its store: it is putting a hotlink to the app store directly on the homepage of its browser, which it says is used by more than 100 million people.
Without much promotion the store already appears to be doing well: Opera notes that in pre-launch state, the Opera Mobile Store attracted more than 15 million users in February, from 200 countries, seeing more than 700,000 downloads per day. “These metrics establish the Opera Mobile Store as a top 10 mobile application store around the world,” it wrote in the release.
GetJar, meanwhile, has positioned itself up to now as the higher profile of the non-native app stores on the market today, with 1.75 billion downloads to date and a stellar endorsement from the Mighty Eagle Peter Vesterbacka on why it was so important to get Angry Birds on the GetJar platform, as a way of targeting Android users.
On a basic numbers level, it seems that GetJar is in square competition with the Appia store from Opera. It says it has in total 140,089 apps (including games), compared to Opera’s 140,000.
But given that Opera was one of the most popular apps on GetJar, with 30 million downloads to date, getting removed from the store could put a big dent in how Opera expands its market.
Update: GetJar has passed us an explanatory blog entry from its CMO, Patrick Mork, due to be published tomorrow. In it, he confirms the competitive conflict, and points out that the two have already been talking about this for months, and that GetJar was “disappointed” that its users will no longer have access to download the Opera Mini browser through its store. An excerpt:
“Apps on Getjar are free to download. This has always allowed us to provide quick, unrestricted and worldwide access to apps for all our users. It’s a central part of our business and philosophy and one that we find fundamental to allowing consumers to try great content no matter where they live and how they want to consume apps. However, to keep our service running GetJar needs to make money ;) Therefore, we allow app developers to promote their applications on GetJar using advertising. Developers can obtain extra visibility to promote their apps and pay for this on a per-download-basis. This keeps your content free, keeps us running and allows developers to get extra visibility.
“The simple problem is that Opera mini decided to include a competing app store in its browser. Although we don’t have any issue with this in principle, in practice it means that consumers might start using this app store instead of visiting GetJar to get their favourite apps. This robs GetJar of traffic and therefore of the advertising necessary to keep our service free for the more than 25 million consumers that use GetJar. It also jeopardizes an ecosystem that has generated over 1.6 billion downloads for tens of thousands of developers who depend on us to make money from their apps. Don’t get me wrong: we’re happy to go head-to-head with any other app store and are certain that once you’ve tried the Opera App store you’ll find the depth of content, discovery and download from GetJar more compelling than ever. But it’s an another thing entirely to help competitors grow their business at our expense or that of our community. We spent many months negotiating with Opera to avoid this scenario and are disappointed that GetJar consumers will no longer have access to Opera Mini. Fortunately, there are a number of excellent options on GetJar for our users including Bitstream Bolt, UC Web browser and Squace. All are excellent products.
“In the meantime, we hope to resolve this solution with Opera in the future…”