Loop Mobile, Mumbai’s oldest telecom service provider, has launched its own mobile application store called Apps@Cafe reports TelecomTalk.
The app store has a wide range of apps, free and paid, that works on different mobile platforms like Nokia’s Symbian, Android, and BlackBerry.
The app store is powered by Mobango and features over 10,000 free and paid apps. Loop Mobile subscribers can access the App Store by sending Apps to 50505 / 50800. The same can also be accessed from the @cafe Portal / GPRS Home Page. Once they receive the link on SMS, they can click and open the portal in the browser available on their GPRS enabled phone. Users can also see app ratings before downloading or buying the app or game. The app store homepage detects users’ handset and only displays apps that are compatible with the device.
The apps range from free to Rs 10 and for games the price can go up to Rs 100. Loop Mobile customers can also transact using ZipCash coupons. This appears to be an extension of the partnership between ZipCash and Loop: they recently announced a tie-up for enabling P2P money transfer on mobile.
When tried on our Nokia Xpressmusic 5800, we couldn’t really locate any paid apps to try out.
Do we really need another app store?
Loop Mobile’s Mobile App Store does not even provide any premium apps for free, nor do they have any exclusive deals on apps like Amazon’s Android app store. So we wonder what’s new in the offering.
Anupam adds: Mobile OS platforms from Apple, Nokia, Google, RIM already offer an app store where users can download apps/games compatible with their respective OS. In addition to these, we also have independent app stores from the likes of Opera, GetJar, and Amazon. White labelled app stores from operators, although come with the advantage of aiding discovery for developers, since they push it to users, and also offer in-built operator billing which makes it easy for users to pay for apps, since credit card penetration is still low in India. Also, feature phones that support Java based apps don’t often come with a built-in app store, the exception being phones from Nokia. So developers who make apps for them can showcase and distribute their apps through operator app stores. However, operators command a major part of the revenue, as a share from developers.
We feel that operators should work with platform app stores to integrate operator billing, rather than launching their own app stores, at least on smartphones. Or if they do offer an app store, it should offer differentiated apps. The opportunity for localised and indic apps always exists. Telcos should also offer more incentives to developers and need to make the rev-share arrangement a little more in their favour, to boost app development.