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App stores are changing the mobile business: CTIA panelists

LAS VEGAS – Mobile application storefronts are changing the way that businesses look at apps and the way that developers create them.

The “Storefronts – Running the Platforms that Bring the Apps” panel at CTIA discussed why many business are launching them. In addition, the talked about the technology issues involved in running the storefront platform and what it takes to get a successful application placed on a company’s storefront.

“You’re not just a developer, but you’re also a business person” said Paxton Cooper, senior director  of developer platform at RIM. “If you have a massive volume, but you have one tightly controlled channel which you’re enabling channels to build market, there is less value for developers and that single distribution channel gets diluted.

“We’ve talked a lot about the fact that we’re very consciously trying to align our strategies with our partners,” he said. “It’s getting to a point where a device knows more about you than you.”

Business applications
Businesses are looking at new ways to market and new ways to discover and the panelists predicted that there will be a huge evolution of this.

Developers are not going to stop creating applications.

Three years ago, if someone was a developer and they wanted to get global distribution, they had to go to AT&T or an aggregator and now, there’s an easy access where they can go to the a carrier store and upload their application.

“At the end of the day, we’re shipping PCs now and the Web is out there if you want to download flash applications you can download flash applications,” said Gregg Sauter, global director of third party publishing at Nokia.

“The PC is in your pocket and that starts to change the game,” he said. “It really depends on what you want to deliver and how you want to monetize it.”

The panelists also included Leroy Williams, the executive director of applications, content and music at Verizon and Ted Woodbery, vice president of AT&T.

The panelists foresee a more consolidated, integrated approach when it comes to mobile application development.

It is going to be more tied into the user experience and that is also going to be a growing trend.

Currently, there is a shift from feature phones to smartphones.

Mr. Williams said Verizon has been successful with both its merchandising and its distribution. The company has thought about how it carries out its application experience from a feature phone to a smartphone. It plans to drive innovation for the smartphone platform and deliver applications across all the mobile factors.

With location and merchandising, Verizon plans to build a broader community.

“We do have plans to take it one more level with cross merchandising,” Mr. Williams said. “From a subscription stand point, it gives you a broader experience.

“Today apps stores are client-based – I would tell you and argue that the Web model is challenged, as a consumer you have to know where to go for a single source and browse and discover content that is relevant to you,” he said.

Mr. Williams argues that no company has really adopted cross merchandising. He said that RIM does a fairly good job of it – the notion of business applications, but people think of application stores traditionally as consumer driven models.

The panelists agreed that when delivering some type of experience, the mechanics should be the same. Companies should know who to market to and where they would get the greatest return.

There should be a consistency between mediums and companies should use the opportunity of exclusivity to figure out what is important to its customers and developers.

Mr. Woodbery said that when Web sites become applications a barrier is going to come down and more people will become involved in applications, pushing the quality of it.

“I do think it being the center point of all acquisition and discovery,” Mr. Woodbery said. “You’re going to find apps and the ability of apps take on more meaning.

“I think you’ll find it more dimensional,” he said. “You’ll see the cloud and the Web take a larger role than they are today. I think it will take on a more generalized purpose.”