Aircel’s Head of New Products & Innovation Sandeep Sawhney has said that relevancy of application stores in India is low and that the company would have been happy not to get into it.

Speaking at a panel discussion at Mobile India 2010 recently, Sawhney said, “But we are democratising VAS. We are delighted to partner with Ovi or other platforms. We will support vendors working across operators,” he said, adding that unless the price of smartphones comes to Rs. 5000, it was doubtful app stores would be successful.

“We have a limited number of people, so when we sat down and envisaged the talent in our country, we decided to partner with Infosys.  So you (developers) can go directly to them and not us,” he said.

Talking about the progress of the store, he said, “We are fairly advanced on the platform side. ” He also indicated the app store would be launched in four to eight months’ time and not next quarter.

Earlier Story( Jan 6): Aircel is readying to launch the first operator-side Application Store in partnership with IT services firm Infosys. The app store will be available to users in 2-3 months, the Aircel spokesperson told MediaNama.

The tie up between Infosys and Aircel signals a change in the market – it is no longer a handset manufacturer driven app store market, and can move into becoming an operator driven one – with 13 operators in the country, this could become interesting if replicated by competitors.

This application store would be the fourth to launch in the country – Nokia launched its Ovi Store in May last year and Blackberry brought its app store to India in November. Before them, Apple’s App Store for iPhone users was already in existence. Airtel had also launched a application for the Android store, with CanvasM.

Open Apps, Most Free

The application store will be open to developers and they will need to register with Infosys’ community to put their apps on the store. Most of the applications offered will be free, others will be priced nominally, the Aircel spokesperson said. No details of the number of applications nor the number of vendors registered were available as the store hasn’t been launched yet.

The Aircel-Infosys Partnership

Infosys will debut Flypp, its white-labeled platform for the app store.  Details of this community and the number of developers currently registered are not being shared right now but Infosys will be controlling the major part of the app store infrastructure – it will manage the developers and applications through its ecosystem of independent software vendors  in India and abroad and will test and certify applications submitted with a toolbox. It will also offer an API to developers for integrating aspects such as billing, location, messaging and B2B capability within their applications.

Aircel will, on its part, “zero in on relevant applications” with consumer insights. Users will still be able to access all the applications offered on the store by developers. When asked if there will be operator-specific applications, the Aircel spokesperson said it is open to developers interested in delivering such apps.

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