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Cellphones Businesses

Mobile Operators Fight App Store Fragmentation 178

Posted by kdawson
from the preferring-trifurcation dept.
angry tapir writes "Twenty-four mobile network operators have formed the Wholesale Applications Community to avoid fragmenting the apps market and to give developers one point of entry to all the members. The Wholesale Applications Community members include: AT&T, China Mobile, Deutsche Telekom, NTT DoCoMo, Orange, Telefónica, Telenor Group, Sprint, Verizon Wireless, and Vodafone." The vision seems to be eventually to create one unified app market in addition to Google's and Apple's. The article quotes an analyst noting that the mobile operators have "a poor track record with this type of industry consortium."
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Mobile Operators Fight App Store Fragmentation

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  • by LostCluster (625375) * on Monday February 15, 2010 @10:35PM (#31151516)

    One thing that allows the Apple app store to be so popular is that the number of screen sizes it need to support is limited to one resolution, with a second larger screen announced but not out yet, and that'll come with a scaling tool so apps that are designed for the small screen will look okay on the bigger screen.

    It seems that in order to have an app store that's cross platform, we'll need a cross platform hardware standard too. Apple's app store is a hit because it allows developers to score big with comparatively little effort, especially if the developer already knows how to program with XCode on the Mac. How does this proposed alliance claim to be able to get the same benefits?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Variable screen size is not an issue. Or rather it shouldn't be a problem with any decent framework, that provides dynamic layouts which allow widgets to scale and reflow to fit. We've had that on the desktop for decades (e.g. all Linux UI frameworks use this model by default).

      • by furball (2853)

        Scaling and reflow doesn't fix everything. Things that are small in one screen size will be really small in another screen size. For trackball or other systems with a cursor, this can be remedied but for touch it'll make the interface intolerable to use.

        You can scale up. Scaling down will usually result in a flawed interface.

        • Yes, so specify a minimum screen size, and work up from that. Again, same way it works on the desktop (most Gnome dialogs won't fit in 640x480, for example, but will scale up).

          • by furball (2853)

            Let's say I am a hardware manufacturer. Why do I want to make larger screen sizes when everyone is designing for smaller screen sizes? The marginal gains from the usability of larger screens factored against my production costs says there's no gain if my technologically better screens performs just as well as technologically worse screens.

      • We've had that on the desktop for decades (e.g. all Linux UI frameworks use this model by default).

        And it's still a crapshoot whether stretching any particular application's window will cause it to reflow like crap or not. It seems to be one of those UI things that far too few developers care about. I doubt they'll be any more conscientious on handhelds/phones than they are anywhere else. For example - there are lots of 'themes' for firefox that don't reflow for crap and that's for themes - something that is 100% pure UI. If people who are only doing UI work can't get it right, then expecting develop

        • I dunno, maybe those desktop UI developers just need to relearn? We've had proper reflowing UI in Web applications for ages now, and that's with all the ugly hacks you often need to do to get there in HTML+CSS.

          Meanwhile, I can't help but notice that even on Windows, new UI toolkits go for reflowing-by-default (case in point: WPF). And there are very good reasons for that. One: you can't do proper theming without it - unless you restrict widget sizes to fixed values (which is very limiting). You can't let us

          • We've had proper reflowing UI in Web applications for ages now,

            And yet, the web apps tend to reflow like crap too.
            Look at the nytimes website, or yahoo.com, even youtube.com - all basically fixed size and there are bazillions more. My experience is that reflowing websites are the exception, not the norm.

            I dunno, maybe those desktop UI developers just need to relearn?

            Lolz. The whole point of those examples is that "need to relearn" ain't enough motivation - and handhelds don't bring any new motivation. If anything, the limited number of resolutions will just encourage developers to code for a specific handful of resolutions and e

          • by grumbel (592662)

            We've had proper reflowing UI in Web applications for ages now

            Thats not my experience. Increase the font size and close to 99% of all non-trivial webpages out there will break, some with just minor glitches, other will become unreadable thanks to overlapping text. Horizontal resize doesn't work all that great either, as by far most pages out there have a fixed min-width, get below that and welcome to the horror that is the horizontal scrollbar. Clever relayouting of the div boxes once you get below a certain size? Haven't seen those. Some portable browsers provide tha

      • by A12m0v (1315511)

        Yet Gnome sucks on low resolution small screens. I know this because Gnome sometimes renders widgets off screen!

      • Variable screen size is not an issue. Or rather it shouldn't be a problem with any decent framework, that provides dynamic layouts which allow widgets to scale and reflow to fit. We've had that on the desktop for decades (e.g. all Linux UI frameworks use this model by default).

        Not everything is composed out of scaleable UI elements. There are lots of apps that have logical layouts made specifically for the iPhone screen, especially games. Try telling a graphic artist to draw a background for 50 different sc

      • Variable screen size is not an issue.

        We'll see if that's true when the ipad comes out.

      • by Z00L00K (682162)

        But reality is that variable screen size IS a problem, since it determines how many items that can be placed on a page, like when using an input form.

        But then - the telecom operators are also responsible for the app store fragmentation since they are the ones requiring the mobile phone vendors to provide branded phones - which usually means lobotomized phones.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by pydev (1683904)

      In different words, Apple is following the same trajectory as previous mobile platforms: start off with a single screen size and a whole bunch of simple assumptions, and then try to patch things up as additional demands become apparent.

      That's a great way of getting into the market, but it's a bad long term strategy. If you want to see where that kind of attitude leads, look at the last years of MacOS before it expired.

      • by SuperKendall (25149) on Monday February 15, 2010 @11:46PM (#31151904)

        In different words, Apple is following the same trajectory as previous mobile platforms: start off with a single screen size and a whole bunch of simple assumptions, and then try to patch things up as additional demands become apparent.

        If you work with the platform, you realize this is not true - but it was only really apparent with release of the iPad.

        Yes they started off with a single screen size, but not with the bunch of simple assumptions - from the outset for example all the tools totally supported defining resizing behaviors for any GUI element in Interface Builder, the GUI development tool. The Image API lets you define stretchable image types where only endcaps (on any of the four sides) remains fixed, while the middle simply repeats which lets you use the same nice graphics on elements that can take on different sizes. That did exist because of OS X, but there were other OS X elements the tool did not have to support - yet that was included.

        But of course, as graphic designers are wont to do, many app developers did develop a lot of stuff targeted at pretty specific sizes (just like the web, take a look sometime at how many sites really support resized windows instead of having a design constrained to a particular width).

        So how to solve that problem with devices that have different resolutions while still bringing new devices to market? I think the way Apple decided to address that, was by fixing categories to specific pixel sizes. So mobile devices the size of the iPhone get 320x480, but devices the size of the iPad get 1024x768.

        Now where that gets interesting is that they don't just fix pixel sizes for categories, but within the categories they define UI elements that you can only use when you have the larger amount of space available. That is how they work around the issue, instead of letting developers flounder in a larger sea of pixels they give them some guidelines as to how they can use many of the elements they are used to while showing them ways to make better use of the larger space.

        I would say that is in fact a different trajectory than other mobile (or even desktop) platforms have developed, where you have the same GUI libraries for devices of any pixel size. That to me shows at least some thoughtfulness as to direction and what it means to have more pixels.

        • by pydev (1683904)

          Apple inherited some resizing capabilities from their desktop platform, but they were fully aware that it wasn't mature enough for small screen devices, so they stuck to a single size. So, parts of their software support arbitrary sizes, parts work via rescaling, and others are specific to a couple of pre-defined sizes in their product palette (since they only have two devices, that's not really rocket science).

          Really, it's exactly the same as other mobile platforms. Android has 320x480 and 480x800 (with

          • "not mature"? (Score:3, Interesting)

            by SuperKendall (25149)

            but they were fully aware that it wasn't mature enough for small screen devices

            How exactly are the existing tools "not mature"? Remember these inherit not just from behaviors that were around since OS X 10.1, but even to some extent from NeXT before that!

            At this point graceful resizing behaviors are actually pretty mature I would say, compared with a number of other GUI frameworks I have seen on a lot of other platforms.

            So, parts of their software support arbitrary sizes

            Default sizes, I don't know of any t

            • by pydev (1683904)

              How exactly are the existing tools "not mature"? Remember these inherit not just from behaviors that were around since OS X 10.1, but even to some extent from NeXT before that!

              NeXT was a desktop operating system, and so is OSX. So, iPhone inherited resizing functionality in the toolkit, but it was never adapted to small screens or phones. Hence, iPhone has resizing, but Apple isn't enabling it because it probably wouldn't really work well for users.

              Cheap shot and ill-deserved I would say given the delibe

        • by pydev (1683904)

          Oh, and of course Apple's path shows planning. I mean, Apple isn't stupid, they know what it takes to get a platform to market quickly. If they had spent another couple of years trying to get iPhone to work on different screen sizes, they would have missed the market. That doesn't change anything I said: Apple has been following the same path as other mobile OS platforms and they'll end up with the same mess on their hands in the long term.

        • by mdwh2 (535323)

          Yes they started off with a single screen size, but not with the bunch of simple assumptions - from the outset for example all the tools totally supported defining resizing behaviors for any GUI element in Interface Builder, the GUI development tool.

          OOI, are there platforms out there that can't do this anymore? I got this as standard when I started GUI programming in, ooh, about fifteen years ago. I don't think there's anything noteworthy about it now.

          So mobile devices the size of the iPhone get 320x480, b

      • by jo42 (227475)

        start off with a single screen size and a whole bunch of simple assumptions, and then try to patch things up as additional demands become apparent.

        You are an epic idiot. Read through the iPhone OS SDK before making completely ignorant statements. Start with struts and springs in Interface Builder -- laying out UIs that scale as screen size or orientation changes is trivial. If that isn't enough, all the APIs are there to find out device orientation, size of the status bar and every single UI element -- and have been there for over a decade since iPhone OS and Mac OS X share over 80% of their source code. Writing custom UI classes that adjust is also t

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Hamsterdan (815291)
      Kinda like iTunes...

      That proprietary music player will never catch on. Yet all the younger people I meet have a iPod Touch or a standard iPod. I myself used to have a 40GB iPod, and now own an iPhone.

      iTunes might seem evil on some platforms (and on Windows it's a bloated &*^%$%^& piece of *&^%$, but on a MAC (or Hackintosh), it's really nice.

      Now, what they need to do is two little things.

      Make the freaking player look like a standard USB drive to the computer. if it's DRM'd, fine, go with iTunes,
    • by AuMatar (183847)

      Of course, that's also why a lot of us don't have iphones as well. I want a phone with a fold out keypad- an on screen touchscreen keypad is epic fail- I'd rather type on a 9 button pad than that. By not having a hardware standard, Android lets me do that- there's several models with fold out keyboards. That'll change of course- as Android rises in popularity and as revamped Symbian and WinMo come up Apple will need to put out more hardware configurations or it will get beat into the ground.

      Apple's a

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by SuperKendall (25149)

        without that you'd have maybe 5% of the activity you see now, most people don't buy apps.

        On other platforms that is more or less true, but what Apple has succeeding in doing is creating an environment where people DO pay for apps. They may not pay a lot, but there is a culture of willing to spend some money to experiment.

        I think in large part that is because from iTunes Apple had so much experience in making payment as easy as possible, and of course the fact that millions of people already had a CC on fil

        • by mdwh2 (535323)

          On other platforms that is more or less true, but what Apple has succeeding in doing is creating an environment where people DO pay for apps.

          Do you have evidence that people use apps on the Iphone more than other platforms, and that this is due to Apple? (I'm not sure the paying for it matters - sure, it's great for Apple, but it's not a good point for us if you have to pay for things that on other platforms you download for free.)

          I do not think the next Windows7 mobile platform will let you do so.

          Do you

          • Do you have evidence that people use apps on the Iphone more than other platforms, and that this is due to Apple?

            There have been many blogs from various companies selling stuff on both iPhone and Android, showing that you earn more money on the iPhone application - an order of magnitude more when there is not an order of magnitude difference in devices. Look for Pinch Media reports as well as individual sales blogs.


            (I'm not sure the paying for it matters - sure, it's great for Apple, but it's not a good po

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by macs4all (973270)

        an on screen touchscreen keypad is epic fail- I'd rather type on a 9 button pad than that.

        First, I am really getting sick and tired of the overuse of the term "Epic fail." It is not an "Epic fail(ure)"; you just don't happen to enjoy it. Big difference.

        Second, I don't think more than one user in 100,000 would "rather type on a 9 button pad" than a qwerty keyboard, even an onscreen one.

    • This isn't about development, but rather about revenue.

      AT&T, Verizon, etc. all used to make all the money by selling directly to the customers.

      AT&T decided to pay Apple for the right to hand their revenue stream over to Apple. It was an all-time brilliant move by AT&T that screwed the industry.

      Apple dictates to the music industry how they will operate now that they are an industry leader with iTunes. Apple is now going to be selling music, movies, books and software through iTunes. But ultimatel

    • How does this proposed alliance claim to be able to get the same benefits?

      They probably just expect to just do a shitty BREW app market (such as the Verizon Get It Now/VCAST store) and think that users won't laugh in their faces and go back to using native apps written by people who know what they're doing.

      I welcome this initiative, but only because it will be a giant waste of money and effort for the cellcos, and anything that hurts them makes me smile spitefully.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      developers will work around screen issues.

      the real problem is that the operators want to 'own the customer' - so they all put in their own stupid rules, controls, regulations.

      e.g. I have a windows mobile app, but if I want to release it with orange, I have to
      -Sign up to their system.
      -Pay for orange signing and testing (and go through the time-consuming process of doing it)
      -Probably make a bunch of orange-specific changes
      -Give them ~65% of the revenue
      -Hope that individual country managers decide they would l

    • by mdwh2 (535323)

      One thing that allows the Apple app store to be so popular

      It couldn't possibly be anything to do with the fact that Iphone users have to use it, as they can't download from anywhere else? It's true, 100% of Iphone users download from Apple's app store.

  • Buying goldfish food (Score:5, Interesting)

    by BadAnalogyGuy (945258) <BadAnalogyGuy@gmail.com> on Monday February 15, 2010 @10:40PM (#31151562)

    I didn't think there was so much to raising goldfish until I went to the store to buy goldfish food. Did you know they have different food types for different varieties of goldfish? There is a separate food just for Lionheads that "enhance and grow" the bumps on the heads of these freaks. Then there is food that increases the vibrancy of certain varieties of goldfish. Not to mention that there are foods that float versus foods that sink. Flakes vs pellets. Live worms vs freeze-dried worms. Feeder fish vs 3-day time release blocks.

    My goldfish had an air bladder infection and was constantly floating to the top. I ended up getting the sinking pellets because that discouraged it from eating from the surface.

    My goldfish is better now, but I wonder how much more trouble it would have been if I had multiple varieties of goldfish in the same tank.

    • by hvm2hvm (1208954)
      Wow, you treat this analogy making like a job or something don't you?
    • by Aceticon (140883)

      Hi,

      For improved understanding, could you please reprase your story as a car analogy.

      Thanks in advance!

    • by coofercat (719737)

      In a village near me, a bunch of small stores got together and bought specially shaped bags for their particular products. The baker had 'loaf' shaped bags, the milkman had 'bottle bags' and the dry cleaners got new plastic covers in different lengths depending on the garment it was intended for. The group of stores were nice enough to make sure they got recycled plastic for their bags, and since they were collectively buying in bigger bulk, got a better price and decided to put a village "goes green" logo

  • by SuperBanana (662181) on Monday February 15, 2010 @10:43PM (#31151578)

    Twenty-four mobile network operators have formed the Wholesale Applications Community to avoid fragmenting the apps market and to give developers one point of entry to all the members.

    You say "ah-void frag-muhn-tation of the mar-ket", I say "mohn-op-oh-lee."

    Anyone want to guess how they'll leverage this? My guess is that if you piss off one mobile carrier with your app (or blame them for a problem), you'll be blocked from all of them. Plus, of course, pushing the carrier's commissions as high as possible.

    • by Shadow of Eternity (795165) on Monday February 15, 2010 @10:43PM (#31151582)

      Yeah, I was going to say the word they're looking for is not "Consortium" but "Collusion".

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        I'm sure that they have exciting plans to "provide market stability" and "avert consumer confusion" through "industry standardized pricing models"...
        • I can already foresee one of them: "avert consumer confusion by only allowing our cartel's app store on our networks, blocking Apple, Android and Ovi".

          When will the governments finally step in and force these mafias to work like ISPs?

      • by TubeSteak (669689)

        Yeah, I was going to say the word they're looking for is not "Consortium" but "Collusion".

        Collusion is what companies do in secret.
        A cartel is when they do it in public.

    • by godrik (1287354)

      Somedays, I wish I could mod +4 insightful/funny. Today is one of those.

    • Each carrier will want to approve the apps that are sold to its customers.
      So each app will need 24 approvals. Some will get 24 thumbs up. But I imagine most will be banned by one carrier or another for political reasons.

      By the time this is done it will make Apple's approval process look attractive.
         

      • by Rhaban (987410)

        Make the phone only see the apps approved by its carrier and your problem goes away.

    • by wvmarle (1070040)

      Depends whether they go for one market place, or for one store. Big difference.

      Mobile phones work with any network: there are a few standards, a few radio frequencies, some odd ones of course but in general they just work. Pop in a sim and off you go. Single marketplace, multiple vendors. That's good. Mobile fees are low, choice of networks/plans and phones is huge.

      They could do the same with apps. Just that you will have to choose which phone you have as apps will not be cross-platform. Too many platform

  • by SuperKendall (25149) on Monday February 15, 2010 @10:44PM (#31151586)

    "We plan to fight application store fragmentation, by fragmenting all of the application stores!"

  • by pspahn (1175617) on Monday February 15, 2010 @10:51PM (#31151636)
    It's clearly Apple vs. Google vs. Everyone else as it is. A couple of computer companies came up with novel and interesting ways to sell software on phones and now you have all the phone companies freaking out trying to figure out how to do the same thing and still compete.

    Their business is telephones, not software. There really isn't any other choice the telecoms have. They know they'll be more effective working together and pooling talent, but will they deliver? I'm sure most people doubt their ability to come up with an answer, but you never know...
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Kevinv (21462)

      the only way they might actually come up with a decent answer is in putting their egos away and actually working together. Instead I bet every company tries to twist the process into their own advantage over the other participants, just like they do when they sit on standards bodies.

    • I didn't think Microsoft would actually have the courage to totally overhaul Windows Mobile, but "Windows Phone 7 Series" I think now may be a contender for some serious contention of marketshare, in part because it's Microsoft leveraging partnerships to the hilt, and also in part because they have a very loyal development base.

      Yes, even though it doesn't come out until the end of the year...

    • by IANAAC (692242)

      Their business is telephones, not software.

      It shouldn't even include software, or hardware for that matter (ie, the handsets). They should just worry about the infrastructure.

      It would be nice to see these companies go through what old Ma Bell went through WRT their phones, no matter how reliable grandma says they were.

    • by mdwh2 (535323)

      It's clearly Apple vs. Google vs. Everyone else as it is.

      I don't know what mobile market you're looking at, but it's not one on planet Earth.

      The actual share is more like Nokia and everyone else - everyone else being Motorola, Samsung, LG. Then RIM. Somewhere in the noise after that are companies like Apple and Google.

      But let's not let something like facts get in the way of the Apple world view :)

    • Their business is telephones, not software.

      Let's look at AT&T's revenue: http://www.wikinvest.com/stock/AT&T_(T)/Data/Revenue_Breakdown [wikinvest.com]

      You'll find a lot of telecommunication services, but nothing to do with selling telephones.

      Aren't the telecommunication service providers in the business of (duh) providing a telecommunication service? The phones are just a marketing gimmick they give you so you'll lock yourself into a highly overpriced subscription for two years (in the US, at least; in Denmark it's six months, and you can get really cheap

  • by Kevinv (21462) <kevin@NoSPam.vanhaaren.net> on Monday February 15, 2010 @10:57PM (#31151664) Homepage

    They're fighting the wrong fragmentation. The fragmentation is in the number of handset form factors, chipsets and OSes. Apple, Google, and now even Microsoft are fighting this fragmentation. Apple with total control over all form factors and OSes they use. Google with a standard OS, but less standardized form factors. And with Win Phone microsoft said they'll be vetting manufacturers more than in the past and won't allow UI skinning.

    Write once, run everywhere doesn't work when the basic functionality of each device varies so much.

    • Write once, run everywhere doesn't work when the basic functionality of each device varies so much.

      Really? Because it's worked damn well for Java. All they need is to 1) really speed up Java or 2) use a similar (but faster) language for writing phone apps. All you have to do then is make sure that each OS runs that interpreted language - problem solved.

    • "and won't allow UI skinning."
      AKA the only thing that stopped win mobile from being a completely failed disaster the last several years. My current phone is only made usable by the COMPLETE overhaul done by telus. I think many features would not be worth touching had they left regular windows there. And I still find it very lacking.
  • by pydev (1683904) on Monday February 15, 2010 @11:02PM (#31151688)

    Mobile operators don't fight "fragmentation", what they fight is their loss of control. With Android and iPhone, the era of operator-controlled feature phones is coming to an end even in the US. They don't want to become the dumb pipes and commodity service that by all rights they should become.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by LostCluster (625375) *

      Actually, they're headed away from that. T-Mobile will welcome any GSM phone capable of using their frequencies and even reward such a customer with a discount on service. Verizon has announced they'll design their 4G network to allow anybody who uses a certified radio chip. Sprint allows many "virtual" network operators to rent their network. So, AT&T is the last to this party, but they'll get there eventually.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by maxume (22995)

        Sprint outright owns Boost and Virgin Mobile, are there still 'many' virtual operators left on their network when you take that into account?

    • by BESTouff (531293)
      You deserve more than 5 points for that.
  • by ducomputergeek (595742) on Monday February 15, 2010 @11:04PM (#31151698)

    Wireless companies are trying not to be dumb pipes. And increasingly that's what they are becoming. Before Droid, on Verizon if you wanted a feature you had to pay more per month. The Wireless companies at first were happy about the smart phones because everyone had to buy a dataplan. Great, more revenue per customer. And that is the measure in the industry: how much can we suck from our customers.

    Well Apple came along and launched their app store for the iPhone. And how much does ATT see from the app store? $0.

    I've often wondered when the Carriers would hijack Android and do what they've done to other phones in the past and implement a "on our network, you use our Appstore."

    The carriers see Apple earning hundreds of millions and now want their share of the pie.

    • by trawg (308495)

      where are my mod points when I need them?

      Telcos are kicking and screaming and trying as hard as they can not to be dragged into the New Age.

      I've often wondered when the Carriers would hijack Android and do what they've done to other phones in the past and implement a "on our network, you use our Appstore."

      This has already happened here in Australia - you can't use the Android AppStore if you're on Optus (one of the major mobile phone companies here).

      Apple has done more to blow away this monopoly than anyone else - it's made people realise that there's no need to be shackled to their telco and paying $5 for ringtones, etc. Telcos need to stop clinging to the past and di

  • we need a open app store not where you need to pay a fee to MAKE FREE APPS. and one where you do not give 30% of the sale for paid apps.

  • Obviouly the iTunes store is McDonalds.

    Android is Burger King.

    And these clowns are fighting to be Wendy's?

    Or are they trying to be those hybrid KFC-Taco Bell-Pizza Hut stores?

    • And these clowns are fighting to be Wendy's?

      You're way off base - they're hoping they'll make White Castle.

      • by dangitman (862676)

        You're way off base - they're hoping they'll make White Castle.

        In that case they'd better not pick up a hitchhiking Neil Patrick Harris on the way.

    • by GaryOlson (737642)
      Sounds more like the Dunkin Donuts/Baskin Robbins stores. Multiple flavors in the morning, multiple flavors in the evening. All the flavors are expensive, all the products are unhealthy with consistent continued use. And 2 hours later you have that craving for more crap.
  • by SashaMan (263632) on Monday February 15, 2010 @11:24PM (#31151802)

    Seriously, the PC market seemed to do just fine for decades without an official "app store". Why can't I just download an app from any vendor's site without having to go through some gatekeeper (who keeps 30% of the revenue). I'm a huge IPhone fan, but has Apple brainwashed us so much that we need an official app store that we forgot that it's not really necessary in the first place?

    • Well, this isn't really an "official" app store, unless someone decides to make it one.

      There've been plenty of app stores over the years, both pre-Internet and post-Internet. Stores are nice for things like one-stop shopping in a "trusted" environment. If I have a choice between buying something from Amazon or "Joe's Internet Store", I might be a bit more concerned about whether I'll get my stuff from "Joe's Internet Store" than I would be with Amazon.

      So I don't see a problem with yet another app store.

    • by iluvcapra (782887) on Monday February 15, 2010 @11:48PM (#31151920)

      Palm and Winmo supported downloadable apps forever, they just didn't move. Vendors were fighting rampant piracy, end users often didn't know what was available except through rumor, and stuff that you could download frankly sucked half the time.

      The store concept is the killer app that makes the whole third-party app concept worth the phone OS vendor's time. I remember having innumerable problems keeping my the various junk on my Treo 650 working and compatible, and migrating from one phone to another while keeping app vendors serial numbers entered. I also remember downloading lots of different PRCs and them not working for my OS revision, or phone model, or carrier firmware. It was a mess, and the app store concept is a solution. They just took the concept of a package manager and put a credit card slot on it.

      • by sowth (748135) *

        So...your thanks go to Debian?

        One thing I don't understand: why were you downloading lots of People's Republic of Chinas? Isn't one enough?

        One more thing: why did the vendors have to fight pirates? Were they sailing a boat past Somalia?

    • by Urza9814 (883915)

      The PC market at least had Windows and a standard aspect ration of monitors. It may be 800x600, it may be 1024x768, but it's still 4:3. It's still Windows. It's still IBM-compatible. And it's still multitasking. All had a keyboard and mouse.

      My phone? Well, my last one was about 1:1 aspect ratio. My current one is 2:1. Mine is who-knows-what processor, at godawful-slow MHz. Some are tens of MHz, some are GHz. The CPUs vary. There's Android, Apple OS, RIM's OS, Verizon's OS, Sprint's OS, AT&T's OS, LG's O

      • by sowth (748135) *

        So cellphones are like computers were in the 1980s. You had the Commodore 64, Atari 8-bits, Apple 8-bit (IIe and friends), then the Mac, Amiga, Atari ST, IBM compatibles, and many more.

        Cross-platform development can be a pain, but if you are disciplined, it is possible. If they did it with the tools we had 30 years ago, you can do it today. Not everything will convert over, but if you modularize your program enough--especially separating components which need the OS and your internal processing--you will

        • by mdwh2 (535323)

          I agree. And there's one big way in which things for phones are better - because of Java. It might not be perfect, but it's a hell of a lot better than any situation we had in the 80s. It means that any bog standard cheap phone can run things like Opera Mini, Google Maps and so on, without worrying about if the developers wrote for their specific model of phone.

          And then Apple come along, only supporting native apps (which is why we now see software having to be written especially for the Iphone, when it's a

    • The pc also has free and open apps iphone does not devs need to pay a fee to have free apps and apple has to much lock down on there stuff same thing for other operators and now they want 1 store with even more lock down?

      • There is nothing stopping you developing a free and open app for the iPhone - there is no law against charging for distribution or the development tools, so Apple is not doing anything wrong in that regard.
    • by jo42 (227475)

      Why can't I just download an app from any vendor's site

      Do you really want to be running anti-virus/anti-malware software on your mobile device? Do you really want a repeat of the junkware/crapware/malware idiocy on desktops, on mobile devices too?

      who keeps 30% of the revenue

      Go ahead. Set up your own vendor site that takes credit cards from over 50 countries in the world and drops the revenue right into your bank account, or go with an established provider of this kind of service, see how much of your take is left -- hint: not as much you think.

      • by mdwh2 (535323)

        So wait, since Macs can download from anywhere, are you saying that they need "anti-virus/anti-malware software" and are full of "junkware/crapware/malware idiocy"?

        All of my phones can download from anywhere, and I've never had this problem. Do you seriously think the best way to solve the worry of malware is to hand over control of what can be distributed, to a single private company? Especially one that has already shown that it will block apps for far more than simply being malware?

        It's a sad day on Slas

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by dangitman (862676)

      Seriously, the PC market seemed to do just fine for decades without an official "app store".

      Actually, the PC market has been mostly shitty, unless you happen to be Microsoft or Adobe, or one of the big enterprise software writers. For the most part, users didn't buy many applications that didn't come with the computer. And the majority of people who did use third-party applications pirated them.

      Compared to the iPhone app store, the third-party PC software market is a failure. If PC software sales were even close to the per-user sales on the iPhone, the market would be much larger than what it is.

      • by mdwh2 (535323)

        Do you have any evidence to support this claim?

        per-user sales

        Aha, here is the key. Chances are, the "per-user" sales of the Amiga platform is better than Windows. I'm not sure how useful that is, though.

        And I'd say it's unfair to compare Windows PCs now, to the mobile market now. The desktop market is saturated and mature - most things that people need, they've already bought, or free (speech or beer) versions are available.

        Yet the phenomenon where you could make money money for simple things on mobiles exi

      • by Xest (935314)

        Yeah, except iTunes and the App store don't actually make any money [theregister.co.uk] whilst the PC software business was worth $303.8bn [infoedge.com] by the start of last year, of which only at absolute most $60bn was attributable to Microsoft during that period [econsultant.com]. The sector has only grown since then, whilst Apple is still only just about breaking even with it's online stores.

        So nice theory, but unfortunately it seems you're completely and utterly wrong. You might want to consider looking for facts to back up your assertions in future.

  • Apple... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by QuietLagoon (813062) on Monday February 15, 2010 @11:28PM (#31151824)
    changed the mobile industry singlehandedly. While the transition of power is not ultimate, consumers in the mobile marketplace now have a new found power over the purveyors of the wireless service. AT&T, Verizon, et al, are now in reactionary mode. That is good for their customers.
    • by mdwh2 (535323)

      Can you clarify - what new power do I as a consumer have, that I didn't have before?

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Sounds like we need some sort of cross platform language (e.g. Java), that has a common platform for mobile devices (e.g. J2ME). That allows for applications to run on different handsets via some sort of profile (e.g. MIDP, CLDC).

    What are we waiting for...oh yes mobile makers to get there fingers out of their asses and start helping the consumer (e.g. through no vendor lock in).

    I'd love to feel safe and warm knowing that any apps I've bought for my iPhone could be used on the new Samsung, or latest HTC devi

  • What do you get when you take all the companies that are scrounging for the last 15% of the mobile app market and put them together? A consortium.

    Can you think of a single consortium of market trailing companies that every created anything worthwhile? Because I can't.

    • Can you think of a single consortium of market trailing companies that every created anything worthwhile? Because I can't.

      Agreed. The whole effort is bound to lead to petty squabbling amongst the members and a least common denominator approach that no one will end up using. I expect this group to all but vanish in 5 years.

      Also, if you look at the list, is there anyone there that has been successful building application software?

  • Organisations with a history of locking down their phones and leveraging that monopoly to forcefeed substandard applications down the throats of consumers who have little alternatives, now coming together to create a new monopoly. Oh, the ways in which this will never work:

    - Handset fragmentation, without a common runtime, it's doomed. Even with a common runtime, Android is already having trouble.
    - Bureaucratic nightmare or toxic dumping ground. There is a fine line between creating too process centric an e

  • by Kanel (1105463) on Tuesday February 16, 2010 @08:03AM (#31154016) Journal

    An Apple representative have openly admitted that their App store is not a cashcow. According to him, they break even but not much more. (Compared to Apple's other incomes I guess) The app store is useful because it adds value to the IPhones, which Apple then sell more of. It's the sale of phone itself which is the main income.

    With this business-strategy in mind, we need to ask why phone companies such as AT&T and Telenor moves in. Why do they support a scheme which is most successfull as a way to sell more phones? Remember, these companies do not produce phones themselves. Is it because they'r uncomfortable with the power that Apple and Google now wield in the phone market and wish to support "nicer" businesspartners like Ericsson and Nokia?

    Or are we seeing a hint that the network providers have come up with a new business plan, to compete against Apple and Google? What do they have up their sleeves?

  • This is not surprising:
    - Mobile phone makers are afraid that hardware is becoming commoditised (read: low cost, low margins) and software will become the way to make profits, just like it happened with PCs
    - Telecoms operators are afraid that they become providers of dumb-data-pipes (instead of the system that they have now of fragmenting data into services and charging more for some) just like it happened with ISPs.

    So the phone makers want to get a share of any profits done on the software (just like Apple

You can do this in a number of ways. IBM chose to do all of them. Why do you find that funny? -- D. Taylor, Computer Science 350

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