Mobile Sands

February 17, 2009

Dividing the Mobile Apps Pie – Nokia, Apple, Google, RIM and others

Filed under: App Store, eBooks, Mobile Apps, New business models, Ovi, Smartphones — Tags: , , — AJ @ 3:45 am

Dividing the Pie – Ovi Style

Nokia launched it Ovi mobile application store today.  I read the developer agreement posted on Nokia Ovi’s website.  Like Apple:

  • Nokia is offering developers 70% of the selling price, less applicable taxes.  
  • Nokia has the right to review all applications and decide which applications get published
  • Nokia will not distribute applications that compete with Ovi (so don’t expect an Amazon Kindle store here!)

Nokia allows “Operator Biling”

However, unlike Apple, Nokia plans to offer operator billing.  This is a huge differentiator for Nokia and clearly one of the things they are uniquely qualified to do. With this option, customers who do not have credit cards or who have do not want to be bothered with entering their credit card information, can still buy applications. This can significantly increase the market size of apps, particularly in the developing world, and on low/mid-end phones.

However, from a developer’s standpoint – there is one catch in operator billing. With this option,  a developer does not get 70% of the selling price, but 70% of what the operator gives Nokia.  It allows operators to potentially get a very large cut of the mobile app revenue by mandating operator billing as the only acceptable payment method.  

Nokia and Apple vs. RIM and Google

In comparison to Nokia (and Apple),  Android and Blackberry offer more attractive terms – to both operators and developers.

Palm, Samsung, PocketGear and Handango

The cut taken by Apple, Nokia, RIM and Google pales when compared to the 50% that Palm is asking. Palm uses PocketGear (previously part of Motricity) to run its app stores.  Since Samsung is using PocketGear as well, I expect them to offer the same deal. 

Of course, the revenue share offered by all the phone vendors is better than the 70% that Handango charges developers who have sales over a million dollars! 

Microsoft’s Plan?

Microsoft  has not  disclosed  how the pie will be shared on Windoes Mobile Marketplace. Going by Microsoft’s record, I would expect their revenue share plan to resember Nokia’s or Apple’s rather than Google’s. 

And of course, we will just have to wait and see what Vodafone and China Mobile have up their sleeves!

January 20, 2009

The App Store

Filed under: App Store, iPhone, Smartphones — Tags: , , — AJ @ 3:42 am

48 of the top 50 paid apps in Apple’s App Store fall in the games or entertainment category, so are 38 out of top 50 free apps.  And this is not surprising.  Single-user games are easy to develop because there is no server-side development.  Games also lend well to word-of-mouth marketing because games are fun. iPhone is the coolest gadget in town and who wouldn’t want to show it off with something cool, especially that something cool costed no more than a box of mint?

Games are also what gave Qualcomm’s BREW store a start.  Jamdat shipped its first BREW game in March 2002 and by September 2005,  20 million games had been downloaded.  Games on iPhone, of course, can do better, and may soon be challenging PSP and Ninentendo.

Unfortunately, Games and Entertainment applications are crowding out everything else in the Top 50 and Top 100 lists in the AppStore, and perhaps the time has come for Apple to either put games into their own Top 50 or better still, publish a rank of all applications sold through the store. If not, Apple is opening the doors to third-party review and ranking sites like AppVee.

One App in the Top 100 that surprised me was a GTD tool called Thing. It is priced at $9.99 but still made it at #100. Wow! And this is despite the fact that there are many free or less expensive GTD and time management apps available. Looks like the folks at Culture Code believe in staying in business.

Personally, the category of apps that I am trying out these days is eBook readers. More on that in a later post.

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