Telecom Apps Development (TAD)

Opera Builds App Store for Carriers

Opera is best known for its mobile browser, but it's also becoming a bigger name in applications of all kinds. A week after it announced it would take over Nokia's feature phone apps, the company is launching a separate white-labeled app store designed to help operators get their cut of the action too. (See Eurobites: Opera Gets Call From Microsoft.)

Last month, the browser developer announced support for zero-rating -- or apps whose usage don't count against data plans -- in its browser extension, but today's update puts a new spin on apps. Now, through Opera's Subscription Mobile Store, wireless operators can offer their customers a branded mobile store with thousands of apps available for a weekly subscription fee. (See Opera Takes Skyfire Horizon Global.)

This is different from Opera Software ASA 's consumer-facing Mobile Store on its Mini, Android, iOS and Windows Phone browsers, which it says has become the third-largest app store in the US. It does, however, use the same infrastructure and pulls from the same catalog of more than 300,000 apps. (See Opera Claims Record Mobile Growth in December.)

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Working with the operator, Opera will populate their store with a selection of those apps that consumers can access for a weekly subscription fee. Opera is offering a free seven-day trial followed by a "small weekly fee" that's charged on the carrier bill and says it will constantly refresh what apps are available. The browser company does all the heavy lifting and manages work with developers for the store, as well as provides operators with data on how it's performing each week.

Opera's Subscription Mobile Store
Five operators are already deploying Opera's app store, including MTS Ukraine, MTS Belarus, MTS Russia, TIM Brasil and Xl Indonesia.
Five operators are already deploying Opera's app store, including MTS Ukraine, MTS Belarus, MTS Russia, TIM Brasil and Xl Indonesia.

Why this matters
Operators have been trying to get their cut of the app scene since Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) popularized it on the iPhone. While they've long had their own app stores and service offerings, they've largely been overlooked for the App Store and Android Market, causing most to discontinue their own efforts. But now they want back in, and they are exploring everything from zero-rating app usage to leveraging their network assets to improve apps to working with other operators for cross-carrier apps to new ways of bundling the billing like Opera's proposing.

Subscription app bundles have already proven popular in Asia. Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S), for one, is experimenting with with the subscription model in the US with a $5 per month plan that it started in August. If done well and, importantly, not forced on consumers, Opera's model could get operators a piece of the action even if it doesn't become the consumer's primary way of accessing content.

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— Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, Light Reading

Kruz 12/8/2014 | 6:28:49 AM
Re: app options Ideally they should keep the alternative. There isn't much information about the Store from Opera currently and it would be nice if they detail this more.
Michelle 12/1/2014 | 9:45:31 PM
Re: app options I prefer to pay per app download. I'm really curious to see how well the Opera store is received.
Kruz 11/28/2014 | 9:48:03 AM
Re: app options This is very interesting for operators. I am very interested knowing what operators will be charged for having an opera store, how are they allowed to charge their customers back and what happens regading in app payments?

I heard MTS in Belarus, Russia and the Ukraine as well as TIM in Brazil, and XL in Indonesia have released this for less than a dollar weekly.
[email protected] 11/27/2014 | 5:13:30 AM
Re: app options Good initiative and very relevant. The success of this would be dependent upon:

a. Content - its ease of discovery and relevance. One size fit all model wont work. And that would create pressure on bottomline (app makers would look for minimum guaruntees)

b. Pricing - Generally the target segment (mainly non-credit card holders) wouldn't be high ARPU customers and thus pricing has to be affordable and innovative.

c. Purchase flow : has to be simple, one-click and you are done.

d. Positioning & availability of Opera App Store on User handset : In markets where the handset is not bundled by the operator in tarrif plan, it would be a key challenge to get users download this app store
MikeP688 11/27/2014 | 2:17:57 AM
Re: app options For starters, I am very glad to see how they've continued to stay at it during the tumulous times we've all been witness to.     As long as they make it simple and basically "one click", it can work--and I for one will be testing it over the ensuing weeks. :-) 
sarahthomas1011 11/26/2014 | 11:03:50 AM
app options One big determinant of the success of this is, of course, the quality of apps that Opera/the operators have to offer. They've promised they will be hot apps. Examples they've given at launch include Minecraft, Angry Birds Star Wars II, My Talking Tom, and Ice Age.

What do you think -- do you prefer paying for apps per download, or would a subscription service like this strike your fancy?
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