Mobile operator Idea Cellular plans to launch an “app store” (note the quotes) powered by VAS company Spice Digital called Mobstore. Mobstore is, in fact, not at app store at all – it is a bouquet of m-commerce services that were already being offered on WAP portals and handsets, but they have been ported onto an application. To simplify, the store is an application.

Idea users can download it from from Idea.getapp.in/mobstore or by sending an SMS ‘MOBSTORE’ to 54777. Once she downloads it, the user will find there is no search option available – there are five main categories and 14 services being offered on it. Talk about walled gardens!

Top operator Airtel announced its App Center will be launched in February and Aircel is still readying its application store in association with Infosys and will be launching it in 4-8 months.

New Pricing Model

Idea Cellular has also invented a new revenue model for Mobstore. The two options offered by Idea Cellular for using the store are:

  • Re. 1 per day
  • Rs. 15 per month

Spice Digital informed us, “Access is not charged but the store is – subscribers can use any of the applications and will have the choice of paying Idea either a daily or monthly fee.”

Generally, app stores are platforms where users can search for applications and download them. When one downloads a premium application and pays for it, the payment gets divided between the telco/carrier, the store owner (such as Apple for its App Store) and the creator/developer of the application. Since the operator and the store owner are the same in this case (Idea Cellular), there is a different pricing model that has emerged.

Consider the same concept in the retail world – you walk into a supermarket and rather than paying for the jeans you purchased, you will have to pay an upfront fee to the store. You cant take the jeans back home – so if you plan to wear the jeans the next day, you have to pay Re. 1 again to the store the next day, or ofcourse, you can pay the monthly rental.

Apps Or Services?

Mobstore is currently supported on over 300 Java, BlackBerry, and Windows Mobile phones. It offers a total of 14 services for these categories:

  • News: Financial Express and Indian Express
  • Sports: CricBuzz lets you check live cricket scores & schedule of cricket matches
  • Entertainment: BIGFlix which lets you order DVDs; Bookmyshow’s movie booking service
  • Social Networking & Peer to Peer interaction: a Twitter application called Mobiscape
  • Travel: Makemytrip’s hotel booking and flight ticketing services; Railway bookings
  • Jobs & Classifieds: Sulekha, 99acres, Naukri & Jeevansathi classified portals
  • Shopping Bargains & M-commerce

Note that these are not applications that can be downloaded and this entire concept is not unlike a WAP portal with m-enabled services which operators have been doing for a while now. This limited number of offerings and the fact that they are primarily m-commerce apps may not find many takers. After all, we already had access to m-ticketing services and news alerts. What’s new? The challenge for Idea now would be to get its subscribers to download Mobstore.

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