One MobiKwik Systems, which offers an online mobile & DTH recharge service MobiKwik has announced a web-based mobile app store to cater to the Indian market. The app store is in closed-beta, and is accepting Java, Android and BlackBerry apps, at the moment, although it also intends to start accepting Symbian apps by the next fortnight. According to the company, a developer can sign-up for the app store without paying any registration fee, and can start selling his apps within 24 hours.

According to MobiKwik, the real differentiator will be the ability to accept all online payment options in India including net banking, debit cards, credit cards, cash cards and PayPal. Note that the MobiKwik team, Upasana Taku and Bipin Preet Singh, also founded Zaakpay, an online payments service, which also plans to launch its own payment gateway. So this will bring synergy when it comes to monetizing apps in a market such as India, where credit card penetration is still low, and operator billing is limited.

The company feels that it will be able to sell apps to its existing and new customers, who recharge or top-up their mobile phones using an e-wallet. It will charge developers a 30% margin fee for each app sold and will provide analytics for app sales and allow developers to transfer earnings to their bank accounts anytime. The company also claims to provide a security mechanism to prevent piracy of apps. MobiKwik also says that it will market the app landing pages through SEO, though it will approve apps before making them available.

Following a post by Bipin Preet Singh on HackerStreet, a rather interesting discussion revolving around the mushrooming of app stores, differentiation and challenges faced by developers, brought views from app developer Arjun Ram (TaazzaGo) and others. Some of the points that Arjun made:

Problem of multiple App Stores: Arjun says that it’s painful for developers to deploy to multiple stores for every release, so app stores need to pitch how they’re different than others. According to him, developers have to deal with OS app stores, operator app stores as well as independent app stores, so until an app stor proves its worth its not practical for developers to join in.

Distribution: App Stores are about distribution, so they need to explain how they are better in terms of distribution than existing app stores, says Arjun and whether they have a focused audience. The app store should keep its focus group in mind, whether it intends to focus on smartphones or feature phones. Also the ease of access to the app store and the download link, makes a big difference?

– Step Into the Developer’s Shoes: He further mentions that if an App Store claim that its conversion rates are higher than others, it should demonstrate it by solving the problem for one developer and showing it as a case in point. If it can’t find a developer, it should put an app on its own and get the stats. Speaking on behalf of the community Arjun says that Developers want facts and figures, and not hypothetical claims.

– Give Developers An Incentive To Come On Board: Perhaps app stores can let developers take home 100% of the revenue, for a limited period, to give them an initiative to come on board, until the app store makes a mark, suggests Arjun.

In his response Bipin says:

– No free apps; App Store Will Curate Apps: There will be no free apps on the store and no plans to support iOS. Bipin claims that MobiKwik will curate the apps ourselves in the initial period ( 6 months).

–  Easy Sign-up: Bipin claims that it will take 2-5 mins for developers to sign-up on the app store and upload their apps.

– Payment options for Indians: According to Bipin, Indians overwhelmingly prefer to pay using netbanking and debit cards (total > 70%) which are not supported by most international app stores. So MobiKwik’s app store will have an edge here.

– Open To Limited Offers For Developers: He mentions that the company is open to offer some incentives to developers, although he does not endorse the 100% revenue offer to developers model, since he believes that anything offered free loses value soon.