Given that the competition between mobile phones has now shifted more towards the software ecosystem than the hardware, making it easier for developers to publish apps and the consumer to buy apps has become a priority for operators and OEMs to differentiate their products.
The increase in smart phone sales in India, availability of 3G connectivity and user's desire to do more with their phones, companies are looking to upgrade their services. eStore by Ericsson is a platform around which each operator can customize their marketplace with benefits to developers as well. Ericsson's platform lets operators offer an app store but at the same time not be bogged down by the maintenance. From the eStore website:
- Free tools for application development
- Continuous benchmarking through the dashboard.
- Develop unique applications using network enablers made available by operators.
- The operator is in control of the site, branding and content, and decides the devices to have it delivered on.
- Revenues from content, applications, advertising and mobile payments.
Reliance Communications had introduced an app store last year in collaboration with GetJar and has decided to upgrade their offering to complement their 3G services. Idea Cellular will be using Ericsson's eStore to power their app stores too and expects the marketplace to have up to 30,00 paid and free apps.
With Mobile Number Portability available to customers, it is imperative for operators to offer services that can help them sway customers. As with all app stores, the success depends on the developers and the apps. A sample mobile app store based on Ericsson's eStore platform can be seen here.