A new Heavy Reading report finds that carriers with app store ambitions face potential apathy from the developer community

February 23, 2010

3 Min Read
Developer Apathy Could Curb Telco App Stores

Communications service providers are increasingly keen to collaborate, and share resources, with the application developer community, but they could be hampered by the apathy of those developers towards such a relationship, according to the findings of a new report. (See Telcos' App Problem.)

Telco App Stores: A Bridge Too Far?, written by Heavy Reading chief analyst Graham Finnie, notes that, while most service providers believe they must "develop stronger relationships with third parties" in order to "provide a wider range of services to customers, to create new sources of revenues, and to server new customer segments" -- the "biggest obstacle to closer collaboration is the lack of interest among developers."

And, really, can you blame them? Fixed and mobile service providers are widely regarded as being very controlling organizations that have never before embraced the application developer community. As a result, "there is a stark contrast between the enthusiasm of developers for platforms such as the iPhone and the existing telco platforms," finds Finnie.

So, if they want to truly embrace the opportunities associated with opening up their assets and developing partnerships with the app-creation community, "telcos must work to overcome indifference and even hostility" among Web-oriented developers.

Some already have, of course, and have been working with app developers for some time. These include Orange (NYSE: FTE)'s Orange, with its Partner Program, and Vodafone Group plc (NYSE: VOD) with its 360 initiative, and there are many more in various stages of development, including some recent app store launches in India. (See Bharti Launches Airtel App Central, Aircel Plans Mobile App Store, Tower Sale, Orange Joins Apps Store Club, and Vodafone Live! Is Dead!.)

Then there are industry initiatives aimed at helping the carriers with their plans. (See MWC 2010: Operators Form WAC Pack for Apps Push.)

All of those developments, in one way or another, involve the deployment of and, critically, the understanding of, delivery platforms with associated APIs (application programming interfaces), including service delivery platforms (SDPs) that have been developed for the telcos' use, and Web programming architectures, such as Representational State Transfer (yet another goddam acornym: REST).

These platforms and architectures have been identified by Light Reading as key Service Provider Information Technology (SPIT) technologies that will be critical to service providers' future business and operational strategies. (See The SPIT Manifesto, Analysts: SPIT Is Hot Stuff, and Putting SPIT in Focus.)Of course, where there's a service provider need, there are vendors ready to help. Finnie identifies Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU) and Oracle Corp. (Nasdaq: ORCL) as having "well designed propositions" that will likely feature in Tier 1 carrier shortlists, while HP Inc. (NYSE: HPQ) also has "a strong set of assets to exploit." (See Content Store Uses AlcaLu Platform , AlcaLu Shows Off Its Apps Abs, Aircel Uses Oracle, Oracle Targets Mobile Ads , and HP Updates SDP.)

Other vendors, though, are taking a different approach. (See MWC 2010: Ericsson Opens App Store.)

Look out for more about the technologies that are underpinning telco app store developments during the upcoming SPIT Week of editorial special features and interviews that will appear March 1-5 in this very spot. (See Light Reading: SPIT Is It.)

— Ray Le Maistre, International Managing Editor, Light Reading

Interested in learning more on this topic? Then come to Three OSS Imperatives: Customer, Cost & Cloud, a Light Reading Virtual Event for service providers that need to understand how to adapt and transform their operational support systems to put customers first, drive out cost, and support new cloud-based services. To take place on Tuesday, April 20, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Eastern Time, access is free. For more information, or to register, click here.

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