updated 11:30 am EDT, Tue May 12, 2009
Vodafone App Store Coming
Vodafone today hoped to seize on the success of the iPhone's App Store by announcing its own central portal for third-party apps. The service will echo Apple's approach and provide 70 percent of revenue to developers but will have unique software advantages, the cellular provider says. Vodafone's store will be device-independent and will also be tailored specifically to the network, allowing for GPS-aware apps and other features through a special API (app programming interface).
Handing control to the carrier also lets it put app purchases on the customer's normal cellphone bill rather than break them out into a separate bill, as is the case with most app stores today.
Vodafone plans for the store to launch in earnest by the end of 2009 and will target western Europe first, with Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain and the UK getting the earliest access.
The move is officially a means of speeding up access to Vodafone's roughly 289 million subscribers and for encouraging the proliferation of third-party apps on its more advanced devices. Regardless, the effort follows shortly after Apple reached the 1 billion iPhone app download milestone in less than a year and as sales on its network of phones with built-in, carrier-independent app stores like the iPhone, the Android-based HTC Magic and upcoming Nokia smartphones all threaten to take Vodafone out of the revenue stream for software.