PlanetM, the chain of retail stores that offer music, mobile phones and other gadgets, intends to start selling mobile apps for all major smartphones, starting August, reports The Mobile Indian. The report cites sources in the company aware of the development, and mentions that customers will be able to try and buy mobile apps after walking into the stores, and the store staff will assist them in choosing apps. PlanetM has a network of 200 stores across 32 Indian cities and was acquired by Videocon’s retail brand NEXT in 2007 from BCCL, its founding company.

Physical retail of content is not unheard of: Spice group’s mobile retail chain HotSpot had started selling memory cards with pre-installed content including movies, wallpapers and ringtones, across its network of stores; T-Series has been selling content on USB drives as well. But all of this has been to essentially counter the illegal sale of content on memory cards and USB drives, or free-loading on content by mobile handset retailers in India. As smart phones proliferate, apps will also be in demand, but with the availability of many great free apps, and easy to use digital marketplaces (unless it’s the Nokia Ovi Store), we wonder anyone buy from a physical location. This is more likely to be a piracy opportunity – pay Rs 50-250 for a quick transfer of 200 games and apps – than a legal retail opportunity.

That said, users are more likely to be comfortable buying apps from a physical retail store than an app store with telecom operator billing – not many users are comfortable with keeping a significant amount of cash on their prepaid accounts, for fear of false billing, and would rather pay cash. Paying cash will offer a convenient legal option for purchase, but we don’t really expect legal retail of apps to work, even with NFC enabled mobile phones.

(With inputs from Anupam Saxena)