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Devices/smartphones

PocketGear Goes White Label

Independent mobile apps store PocketGear is realizing there's strength in numbers as it renames itself Appia and gives up its direct-to-consumer model of distribution. The company will now throw its weight behind partners as a white-label app store provider.

PocketGear already does this for 40 partners, including four of the top five global handset makers, such as Samsung Corp. ; three of the top four mobile operators in the U.S., including AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) and Verizon Wireless ; and a number of consumer brands. But it's also had a direct-to-consumer storefront that runs alongside stores like Android Market and Ovi. Now, Appia will focus solely on providing the backend platform for carriers, manufacturers and brands that want to target the space.

PocketGear acquired fellow independent app store Handango one year ago, bolstering its app repository to 140,000 apps for 3,200 devices running Android, BlackBerry, Java, Symbian, Windows or Palm operating systems. It's also racked up $15 million in funding to fuel its expansion. (See PocketGear Buys Handango and Betting Big on Mobile Apps.)

Why this matters
This was a smart move for PocketGe Appia. While the app store market has extremely promising growth projections, it's also an increasingly crowded market. Only those that can maintain a relationship with subscribers and developers, to offer the latest and greatest apps, will survive.

Partnering makes sense for all involved because Appia's got the developer market locked up, and the wireless operators, device makers and brands own the consumer piece. With Appia on the backend, its partners will have a faster time to market and an established app catalog at their disposal. And Appia will benefit from on-deck placement.

Pyramid Research is bullish about the revenue opportunities in mobile apps, but it has been predicting industry consolidation since last June. Its mobile app report forecasts that revenues from app downloads will grow from $8.4 billion in 2009 to $23.6 billion in 2014 as app download volumes grow by a factor of seven. In this fiercely competitive space, however, independent app stores are better off partnering to survive, Pyramid said. (See Pyramid: Mobile Apps on the Upswing.)

For More
App stores are all the rage today. Don't believe us? Check out the following stories:



— Sarah Reedy, Senior Reporter, Light Reading Mobile

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