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Device operating systems

Reliance Taps GetJar for Free Mobile Apps

Reliance Communications Ltd. , India’s second largest wireless operator, is the latest to break into the country’s application store movement, tapping the world’s largest independent app store, GetJar Networks Inc. , to bring 65,000 free apps to its CDMA and GSM mobile phones.

GetJar’s app store is part of Reliance’s strategy to use free apps as a gateway to increasing data traffic, data plan adoption, and sale of other services that add revenue to waning voice plans. Reliance expects mass mobile data plan adoption and mobile Internet use to be the immediate upside of the partnership.

The partnership also represents Reliance’s response to increased competition in India, as well as an expected growth spurt in smartphone use. It is following the lead of fellow Indian operators, Bharti Airtel Ltd. (Mumbai: BHARTIARTL) and Aircel Ltd. , which both announced mobile app store platforms earlier this year. (See Aircel Plans Mobile App Store, Tower Sale.) Both have reported steady growth in downloads and users since launching. (See Bharti Updates on App Store.)

All three are responding to a growing shift towards more advanced value-added services, stemming from both consumer interest and the need to offset declining voice revenues. India adds more mobile phone subscribers each month than any other country, and, increasingly, smartphones will become the norm. Competition is heating up as 3G networks come online and handset prices fall to a more mass-market level. (See Nokia Ups Its Game in India and India's Smartphone Battlezone.)

GetJar is already the fourth most visited mobile site in India, according to the company, and now Reliance’s 100 million subscribers will have access to GetJar’s library of apps through the carrier’s VAS platform, R-World. The store will come equipped with freebie favorites like Facebook , Twitter Inc. , Yahoo Inc. (Nasdaq: YHOO), and Opera Software ASA Mini, as well as Reliance’s own app store, RWorld2.

The companies plan to make the store accessible to the largest possible number of users by installing it across multiple brands, not just high-end smartphones. The newly integrated app store will span 2,300 handsets across all major platforms.

Globally, GetJar powers app stores and provides analytics to Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S), Sony Ericsson Mobile Communications , 3UK, The Carphone Warehouse, and Virgin Mobile France. (See GetJar Adds Cross-Platform App Analytics.)

Financial details of the deal were not disclosed.

— Sarah Reedy, Senior Reporter, Light Reading Mobile

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