Lemon Mobiles has launched a suite of applications under the name Lemon Twist, with GPRS based applications like Affle’s SMS 2.0 (it’s first handset deal?), events listing BuzzInTown, maps from MapMyIndia, chat from Nimbuzz, and social networking application Snaptu. Apart from this, the handset has Yahoo services embedded, and also offers the Opera Mini browser for surfing. These are all Java based applications, and the problem with the iQ505 handset is that often slow to load and even exit. Lemon handsets don’t have GPS capability, and the search on the MapMyIndia application that comes with the handset was a little tedious; while costs are being kept low (the handset is priced at Rs. 3800), the idea appears to be use applications as features. However, these applications, and more are commonly available on other handsets as well.

However, the integration to watch in this space is that of Atom Technologies with the handset, allowing consumers to use the application on Lemon Mobile to make payments for various utility services and to merchants – Airtel mobile, broadband and telephone, BIG TV payments, Ferns and Petals, among others. Mobile payments haven’t yet taken off in India, and we’d love to hear a few months from now, on whether the handset integration worked for them.

Where the differentiation comes in, is with Lemon’s own applications, which are specifically for servicing the Indian target customer base:
– Lemon Dictionary is a Hindi to English and English to Hindi dictionary
– Lemon iQ, a quiz for competitive exams
– Lemon Astrojee has personalized astrology predictions

App Store Plans

Four to six months from now, Lemon Mobiles plans to introduce its own applications store, with a Java based developer platform. They’re looking to introduce both free and paid applications, but said that it’s too early to speak about potential revenue share, or payment modules; they’re open to operator billing as well, given the low credit card penetration in India, Rohit Arora, Product Head at Lemon Mobiles said. Arora said that they’ve chosen Java over the Symbian platform to keep the platform as open as possible. They’re open to other platforms (Lemon is launching a Dual SIM Android handset shortly), and is even contemplating partnerships with independent application stores.

Note to Lemon Mobiles: your websites bandwidth has been exceeded, and the site is not accessible

Our take: the handset I tried was certainly tedious to use, and I’m skeptical about developers creating applications for Lemon Mobiles en masse. Making the application store Java based enables a large number of applications and games already in the market to be made available to users, but this is a virtuous cycle: it boils down to Lemon Mobiles’ marketshare, and downloads of apps from its stores, to spur developer activity.