Operator app stores hit the rocks: 3 close this month

Operator app stores had been trumpeted – by the operators at least – as a way for them to maintain a stake in the valuable business of selling users ‘value add’ services. Petrified (or indignant, occasionally) at the predictions they were to become just ‘dumb pipes’ additional revenue streams were urgently sought.

In 2012 several operators realised this wasn’t succeeding and cut their losses.

Telefonica is closing its app stores in Germany, Spain and Argentina this month saying:

Operator apps stores don’t seem to fit with the way the market is going.

Verizon is also shuttering its store (although business customers get a reprieve for now in their dedicated store) this month telling customers:

Closing Verizon Apps simplifies your purchasing and downloading experience, while continuing to allow us to help developers get their apps to you quickly and efficiently.

Vodafone are also aiming to have their store shut by the end of the month although – notably – a dedicated store for emerging markets remains:

In light of the number and variety of application stores already available to our customers, Vodafone has been reviewing its own AppSelect service. The review has now concluded and Vodafone has decided to phase out AppSelect by 31 January 2013 at the latest.

This comes despite significant commentary at launch that many operator stores gave little benefit to consumers or developers. Some analysts are now asking if a similar fate awaits efforts such as payments and advertising.

By Ben Smith

Ben is an expert on enterprise mobility and wireless data products. He has been a regular contributor to Mobile Industry Review since 2007 and is also editor of Wireless Worker.

8 replies on “Operator app stores hit the rocks: 3 close this month”

Operators leaving the app market makes sense from a business standpoint, though, doesn’t it? It is not in their core competency, they have to allocate resources to support the store as well as regulate and maintain appropriate apps, yet they can’t compete with the marketing engines of say Apple and Google. This should be seen as a good and wise decision by the carriers, not as a failure. They tried it, saw the grass was indeed not greener, and are stepping aside before the losses start to mount. I believe these carriers, making an early exit, will be viewed upon positively by their shareholders…

I think that’s a charitable view – looking back over the commentary around the time of the original announcements there is tons of independent (and public) commentary predicting precisely why it was a terrible idea and how it would fail.

What amazes me is the delusional decision-making process that justified launching to begin with. That was time and money that could have been spent working out a smarter (whisper it) more collaborative approach.

Yes, Ben, charitable and not accusatory as they didn’t consult me on the decision years ago… I was not trying to imply going in was a good decision, but instead leaving a very good decision. They should all depart as quickly as they can manage…

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