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Carrier to follow Apple's lead with Web store for mobile apps
When it comes to making it easy for subscribers to access innovative mobile applications, U.S. wireless carriers have lagged their counterparts in the rest of the world.
The arrival of Apple's app store was expected to be a "big wake up call," as JH Kah of Korean carrier ST telecom told an audience at the MobileBeat conference last week.
Now, it looks like T-Mobile USA has gotten that call.
According to paidContent, the No. 4 carrier here plans to scrap its own software deck in favor of a Web-based application store.
While it follows the decision by Apple and its carrier partner AT&T to make it easier to find third-party apps, the T-Mobile plans go a step further, because the apps won't be limited to a single development platform or device. Revenue will be split based on how much network use the application gets.
It also will display the applications in order of popularity, whereas Apple is cutting deals with some app makers to get premium placement.
In this way, T-Mobile USA is emulating the success of carriers outside the U.S., who've figured out that the way to grow wireless data revenue is to give users access to a wide variety of non-deck applications.
Wireless operators such as Vodafone and Telecom Italia have seen millions of downloads of third-party apps onto the phones of subscribers whose use of those apps is driving up data revenue.
"Carriers realize that they're getting cannibalized" by non-deck apps, says Bill Scott, VP of business development for GetJar. "What we'll see is a merging of the on-deck and off-deck platforms... as the carriers realize they can get their money on the data revenue side," Scott says.
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