Apps The Way To Do It

Hot on the heels of the launch of Nokias Ovi Store earlier this week, Jay Seaton, Chief Marketing Officer at Airwide Solutions offers operators 10 tips on how to successfully enter into the App Store market, without suffering some of the limitations the current app store models present

Jay's Airwide On Tuesday, Nokia launched the Ovi Store, its answer to Apples App Store. It was the latest in a string of similar announcements made recently by players across many aspects of the mobile value chain, from device manufacturers through to application developers and mobile operators, all looking to follow Apples lead and capitalise on the growing consumer demand for mobile Internet services.
When you look at the statistics, its easy to see why. A recent announcement by Vodafone anticipated that the operator would take a 30% share of revenues generated through consumers downloading apps on its network.
Yet while the app store phenomenon is clearly good news for the industry, for any app store to become a mainstay, operators must play a part in ensuring that the applications can be accessed by the mass market – despite handset fragmentation and existing limitations imposed on consumers without high-end Smartphones.
At Airwide Solutions, weve come up with a 10-point plan to help mobile operators make their play in the apps game, without suffering some of the limitations the current App Store models present. We're happy to share it with you.

1. Is the App Store model open for debate? 
Operators talk about replicating the App Store model, but can that be done when the model is still in its infancy? The reality is that there is no set model and no right way to go about it. The market will continue to see the model evolve over the next few months and years, and carriers should focus on enhancing app stores, rather than re-engineering them.

2. What does enhancing actually mean?
In order to stimulate additional revenue opportunities and reduce churn, operators should not only offer their customers a range of applications and services, but should also consider using the unique network assets, context and intelligence they have at their disposal to enhance those applications and services, helping them avoid being cut out of the revenue loop.

3. Should all apps be available to all subscribers or should carriers target apps for enterprise users and apps for consumers differently? 
A successful app store will be one that offers innovative applications to users no matter what their device or what their function. App offerings should not be limited to business (i.e.
Smartphone) users. Carriers must establish a model that offers device-agnostic, service-enhanced apps.

4. Relevance is king
Similarly, mobile operators should be careful to ensure the mobile applications and services they offer are cleverly targeted to subscribers, based on network intelligence such as information on location, devices and subscriber preferences.

5. How much is too much?
Operators shouldnt underestimate their customer base. While there is a lot of competition among carriers, device manufacturers and developers to hook the subscriber on an initial app sale, all customers want the same things: ease-of-use, uncomplicated purchasing agreements, and most importantly, personalisation and customisation. Flooding the web and consumers with new app options is only as good as the services delivered with them, and that is the differentiator that carrier-driven app stores offer.

6. How do operators negotiate a revenue share with application developers to make an app store worthwhile?

Operators should think outside the box when it comes to mobile applications and find a way to layer services on top of third party apps for maximum revenue potential. Developers want viable entry points to subscribers and realise its ultimately the pathway to success, but mobile operators shouldnt be afraid to break away from traditional service and content delivery models to make the collaboration with developers work.

7. Set the right foundations
Operators should be mindful of the mistakes of the past when deploying monolithic, technology-based infrastructure, and instead seek out flexible solutions to network upgrades which will enable them to seamlessly roll out services, without negatively impacting upon their current network architecture or services. It is this modular approach that will enable operators to pick and choose the services they want to roll out – and when – while also ensuring they future-proof their architecture.

8. AP-why?
Central to the success of building a long-term ecosystem for applications and services are open APIs that enable third-party application developers to integrate their services with an operators architecture. Truly open APIs for developer communities are likely to drive substantial application-based revenues.

9. Does it all come down to trust?
Carriers have an incredible advantage in the app store business to leverage the trust and loyalty of subscribers. Recent reports suggest that while Apples App Store saw a record number of downloads, most free apps eventually get deleted after the first download. Theres no staying power. Factor into that there is little tying a subscriber to third party app, and you have a very tenuous basis for repeat purchasing. Carriers, on the other hand, with long-term relationships and a trust factor unlike that on the web, can bring a new level of engagement between consumers and the apps they purchase. This is good for everyone. 

10. Sound the alarm!
As the number of applications and services increases, so too will the levels of spam and viruses. Mobile operators must therefore be careful to secure their networks and subscriber relationships by enabling a range of security services and parental control.