Next Gen Telecom

Reliance marries Getjar to launch App Store, what's in store?

Since my earlier post on Airtel’s launch of application store, as expected India’s second largest telecom operator Reliance Communications announced its tie-up with World’s largest Open Application store company, Getjar, to launch India’s largest application store, to bring more than 65000 application to Reliance’s GSM & CDMA subscribers across 2300 mobile handset covering all major platforms.  These applications will be available to Rcom subscribers through Rcom’s VAS portal R-World, which not only includes support to Smartphones, but also supports any Java enabled handset. Sounds interesting!

Getjar, the company who claims to be world’s second largest application store with more than 750 million downloads till date, has struck right cord. In Feb-10, when Getjar launched its Application Catalogue Express (ACE) – a white label mobile application catalogue for carriers, aggregators and content developers, it made its intention clear- attract more companies to launch its application store. And soon after Airtel’s launch of application store, along with Aircel’s tie-up with Infosys to launch Mobile Application Store, Reliance was looking for opportunity to launch its own application store, quickly without losing time-to-market. Getjar deal came at right time…

Mobile application stores are widely considered as panacea to falling Voice ARPU figures in country. More over, with stiff competition in voice tariff segment, operators are looking a way-out to increase the revenues (Voice + Data), while creating differentiating services portfolio amid deeply fragmented market in India. The deal will give Rcom subscribers direct access to Getjar’s Application Portfolio, which has more than 60,000 applications in store. The growing trend to launch mobile application stores is marked shift in operator’s strategy to launch  more and more value added services and lessen the dependence on voice revenues, which offer little scope for revenue improvement. But is Rcom-Getjar deal worthwhile?

Let’s look at it:-

  • With the deal Reliance has got a world class application store available to its subscribers almost instantly. Getjar has whole bunch of Application Store eco-system ready for telcos, and it’s best suitable for telcos like Reliance, who are looking for increasing their VAS footprint without much operational headache.
  • As said above the Getjar has increased its footprint in Asia by tying up with India’s second largest telecom operator having more than 100 million subscriber base.
  • For Rcom subscribers, it’s a win-win deal, as they have directly got access to Getjar’s huge portfolio of applications instantly. Moreover, the Application Support system of Getjar is quite effective in tackling issues, which is added advantage. Also, as the applications can be installed on low-end Java phones, the popularity of Getjar’s app store bound to rise.

But if you look five years down the line, do you see benefits emerging out of this deal? I think, Rcom has found the quickest way to launch App store but not the best, why? Let’s summaries:-

  • With Getjar, Rcom will exert less control over applications development or even development of Indian user’s specific applications. Rcom has to remain happy with what Getjar could offer.
  • With this deal, Rcom has lost the biggest opportunity to tap into its own app store, which will be a big disadvantage when it comes to pricing & revenue earnings.
  • If in case deal doesn’t go well, there’re few alternatives to tap into and Rcom’s position will be like rhino without horns in battleground.

Though financial details of the deal aren’t known yet, I believe that the deal falls in sync with Rcom’s philosophy of managed services. There’re few overheads but also fewer opportunity to tap new sources of revenue. I do agree that for every telco launching its own app store mayn’t be justified, but if telcos are looking to increase their data revenues then launching its own app store is one such opportunity which once lost, may never tap your doors again.

In the end Rcom’s decision to tie-up with US App store giant doesn’t help Indian Telecom Ecosystem too. With every download, where Rcom has to share some revenue with Getjar (?), launch of our own Operator Neutral App store has been delayed again. Where we go from here? I guess, every App Store model has some room to grow, so be it device specific or operator specific or even independent, all will co-exist happily. But then choosing the right one for your need is challenge. With Rcom’s deal we have entered into independent app store model space in India, but will have to see how things unfold further! Stay Tune!

Tags : reliance ties with getjar