Vodafone taking Apps store fight to Apple, Nokia, RIM

In a bold effort to fight back against the established Apps store players, Vodafone has unveiled its own mobile apps initiative that will allow developers to access Vodafone's billing and LBS APIs in a bid to speed up application deployment. The company hopes to benefit from the plan through a revenue-sharing model with the Apps developers.

While this move will see Vodafone competing with Apps stores from Apple, Nokia, Blackberry and others, the company claims it will be offering developers more by providing them with a set of network APIs that will enable them to build capabilities such as direct billing and location awareness into their services.

This overhaul to its mobile service strategy will provide Apps store developers with access to Vodafone's global market using a single point of entry, with the opportunity of reaching millions of potential customers using any cell phone. This will be enabled by work underway within the Joint Innovation Lab (JIL) initiative--which is also supported by Verizon Wireless, Softbank Mobile and China Mobile--which plans to release a website and SDK this summer.

According to Vodafone, developers creating widgets using the JIL interfaces will be able to deploy them across all four JIL operators' networks and stores unchanged. This should reduce the complexity of making apps suitable for a particular cellular network or store, making the apps instantly suitable for Vodafone's storefronts, and those of Verizon, Softbank and China Mobile as they upgrade these to support JIL.

This approach could provide Vodafone with a much wider choice of Apps for its store--potentially more than either Apple's or Nokia's--while also boosting the company's revenues by sharing the income with the developers.

For more on this story:
ComputerWorld, ITProPortal and Cellular News

Related stories:
Vodafone launching mobile app storefront
In the app store scenario, does brand matter?
Apple's App Store nearing 1 billion downloads
T-Mobile teams with Nokia for integrated app store

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