Mobile apps company Onward Mobility has raised Rs 18 crore, around $4 million, from Qualcomm Ventures and Indo US Venture Partners, reports PTI. The amount of stake acquired has not been disclosed. Onward Mobility had previously raised around Rs 3 crore from the Mumbai Angels last year, for 20-25% stake. PTI adds that the Mumbai Angels have exited partially with this round of funding.

Onward Mobility has a rather unusual business model of retailing mobile applications offline, and it has applications like MobiCop, a phone tracking software, MobiCopy, a contacts backup software, Talk007:, for recording voice memos and phone calls, MobiMate, a personal messaging app, MobiSecret, for hiding personal data like images, videos, sound clips and entire folders on handsets, MobiBuddy, a mobile alarm app, MobiTrace, a non-GPS solution for vehicle owners and transporters, and MobiNanny, a mobile usage monitoring tools for parents.

CEO Arun Menon had told MediaNama last year that it feels it is better off selling its apps offline because application stores are too cluttered, and don’t offer adequate visibility to companies. According to its website, it claims to have a retail sales network of over 11,000 retail outlets across 12 states in India, and over 210 distributors.

If that is indeed correct, it is rather impressive: not many companies have tried to build out a retail apps or VAS business, though many have paid lip service to the idea. The two issues that we’ve heard of:
– Retailers like to ensure that the purchase is quick – they want customers to buy a card and leave, because a customer standing in front of a counter often means that others cannot. Installing an application takes time.
– Retailers don’t want to be held accountable for any application installation failures, and have the customer return to ask them to fix any issues.

At that time, Menon had said that the revenue share was 20-25 percent for retailers and 10-15 percent for distributors, leaving the company with 60% get 10- 15 percent and a majority 60 percent is kept by the company.

Techcircle adds that Onward Mobility will look to retail partner applications through its distribution channel: apps related to games, entertainment, music and education. Frankly, if the network is built out, then it could offer a retail channel for many other services. Only, there might be a limit to the amount of content that Onward Mobility can offer for retailing, lest it also become as cluttered as application stores.

Quick question: has you seen any retailer selling Onward Mobility apps?