Corrigendum: We had incorrectly stated that AppCentral is not accessible to post paid customers. It does work for them using Airtel Live WAP access, but not for Mobile Office (Mobile Internet) users. Our apologies for the error – Nikhil Pahwa, Editor, MediaNama.
Feb10, 2010: Telco Bharti Airtel‘s mobile application store AppCentral (Airtel.in/AppCentral) is now open to users: paid apps appear to be a majority rather than free. The app store can be reached via Airtel Live! WAP Portal or by sending an SMS with the text “app” to 54321 to receive the link to the store. We’d pointed out earlier, that Airtel shouldn’t ignore postpaid and Mobile Office users. However, we weren’t able to access applications using Mobile Office, which means that the evolved user base that actively accesses the Mobile Internet can’t download or buy apps. What gives?
Partnership With CellMania, Developers To Receive 28% Revenue Share
Airtel has extended its decade-long partnership with US-based CellMania to create a platform to reach developers – the Airtel Mobile Content Provider Portal. In 2000, Airtel had used CellMania’s M-Finder solution as the default search engine for WAP services.
Mobile application creators have been invited by the telco to submit their applications at this developer platform and it appears that CellMania will be powering the entire back end – right from the applications submitted by the developers to the AppCentral storefront.
Developers registering with CellMania’s platform can expect to receive 28 percent of revenue share of the total sales of the application. According to Application Submission Agreement by CellMania, developers will receive a revenue share that is 70% of what Cellmania receives. Currently, Cellmania and Airtel share the revenues 40:60.
Interestingly, with other international operators, CellMania keeps the revenue share it receives from the operator and offers a license fee to the developer, which is a portion of the net application price – 40% in the case of Sprint, 55% on AT&T, 40% on Virgin Mobile USA and 60% in the case of Palm applications on the BREW platform etc. Net application price is the application’s MRP (or Retail Application Price, at which it is sold to the consumer) net of any data charge fees applied by an operator to Cellmania, credit card fees, applicable taxes, bad debt allowances, returns, cancellations or any other reason where there has been in an inability to collect revenue from the end-user.
In July 2009, Airtel launched Airtel Open Developer Program, offering expert guidance on telecom to developers in India – was this in partnership with CellMania? RCOM also had a developer program that it launched in December 2002 to engage with the community and evaluate ready made apps submitted by developers.
The Apps, Payment Options
The app store, thankfully, appears to be just an app store unlike Idea Cellular’s Mobstore. AppCentral has a search bar right at the top and 25 categories from which to select applications. It claims there are 1,250 applications in all. The store will ensure that only applications that are compatible with your handset are shown, the FAQs section notes. The app store works with 550 handsets that are GPRS-compatible. Airtel has 118.8 million mobile connections in the country as of December 2009 – how many of them do you think will buy an app?
Both prepaid and postpaid users can download and buy apps – prices begin at Rs. 5. The amount will be charged to their bills if postpaid and debited directly if prepaid. The ones that are for free only show a Download option, while the paid ones indicate that one can “Buy”.
If an application also has a subscription fee attached to it, the various models available – monthly, daily or weekly – will also be shown. The user will have to remember then that the application might access GPRS whenever used and they will be charged data rates. Three days before a subscription expires, Airtel will send a renew/discontinue message to the user. The My Purchases tab on AppCentral also allows users the option of deciding which apps to continue to subscribe to and to which not. Users can re-download an application that they have inadvertantly deleted from their handsets – but the limit is twice only.
Ebook Application Wattpad, Other Mobile e-book Readers
WP Technology, the developer of a mobile e-book application called Wattpad, has partnered with Airtel to bring it to the operator’s app store AppCentral, reports Publishers Weekly. The app itself has witnessed 4 million downloads, is currently in version 1.6.2 and has a day/night mode feature. It is currently available for free from here or from WAP site m.wattpad.com.
WP Technology also runs a website that offers 200,000 e-books – novels, short stories, poetry, etc, for download.
Two popular e-book readers for mobiles are the MobiPocket reader app, Barnes & Noble’s eReader Pro. Others include Zavorine’s ReadM (for Symbian handsets), TequilaCat Book Reader, Deep Shadow‘s Readmaniac and Orneta Reader (for Windows Mobiles). Audible has an audio e-book application for Blackberry smartphones.