It really is all about the app stores this year. Android, Windows, Nokia, Blackberry, Orange – the handset manufacturers and the operators are slowly focusing their attention in this direction, with various flavours of developer support to match. It will, they are confidently asserting, help developers and consumers – with just one place to publish to and to discover apps in life, we’re told, will be good. Of course with such a profusion of stores – with several targeting the each platform the developers are almost back at square one… needing to choose where they publish to to get eyeballs and money and jumping through the hoops of each marketplace’s differing terms, payment methods and revenue sharing.
But there’s a bigger problem here – with both the operators and handset manufacturers now generating revenue from application sales old friends have now become competitors. How will the operators feel about the Blackberry store offering competitive navigation or music store offerings to their own? And will operators want to allow the handset vendor’s stores onto their branded handsets when they could keep that revenue for themselves?
Ask the people involved (and I have) and there’s much talk of partnerships, co-operation and marketplace-growth. In face, if I hear the phrase ‘bigger pie, not bigger slice’ used once more it may turn nasty… but the question remains to be answered: Apple’s making hundreds of millions of dollars from app sales. Those numbers are too big for this to stay friendly.