France Telecom-owned mobile operator Orange has launched a new initiative designed to encourage developers to provide content for its Orange App Shop mobile application stores.
Developers will be able to use its new Partner Connect service as a single access point to submit content for Orange's global network of mobile application stores.
First available for Android applications, Orange will add support for BlackBerry and Java apps during in Q1 2011. Partner Connect will offer a simplified app submission, distribution agreement and testing process. The service follows the industry standard and offers developers 70 per cent of application revenues.
At launch, app distribution is limited to France, with plans to roll-out the service to the 32 countries where Orange operates. This roll-out must be quick; otherwise developers will see little benefit in signing up for service.
Orange unveiled its App Shop in the UK and France in 2009. At launch, the store offered 5,000 Java, BlackBerry, Android and Symbian apps.
Launching Orange Partner Connect first for Android is indicative of that platforms' growth. Screen Digest estimates that globally there will be more than 35m active Android devices by end 2010. Despite this growth, application revenues from the official Android Market store have been disappointing. Orange may be able to use its ability to offer integrated billing and greater customer information to attract Android developers, keen to enhance the monetisation of their apps.
For operators, the greatest advantages they hold in the mobile applications market are scale and billing. With its Partner Connect initiative, Orange will hope to leverage both of these to attract developers to its stores.
Developers will welcome the simplified submission process and Orange's adoption of a 70-30 revenue share. Historically, European network operators have taken up to 50 per cent of mobile content revenues. Screen Digest believes, however, that the mobile applications market is now being driven by off portal stores and that network operators will find it increasingly difficult to take a lead in this market.