Monday, September 29, 2008

Apps: T-Mobile does not get it...

I was reading about the new T-Mobile DevPartner Program today. I felt it was a great step forward for a mobile operator. Allow developers to build applications for you, and you will get a lot of end users (and make the one you have happy), plus you'll make money by taking a cut of paid apps (and data usage).

Apple has showed the way. Mobile Operators are in a fantastic position to deliver cross-platform mobile apps, instead of leaving it all to device manufacturers or content providers (e.g. Google with is marketplace for Android).

Unfortunately, carriers still demonstrate they do not get it. Even if the concept is right, there is the "carrier twist" that screws up the good intention.

Example? Check what they say about FREE apps. That the developer that publishes a free app needs to pay T-Mobile ($2/user/month!!) if their users pass the 15MB/user/month threshold...

Now, what drives App Store usage? Free apps. People download first free apps, THEN they start paying. It is natural consumer behavior, more visible in the mobile world than elsewhere (since downloading apps is still a new thing).

Who develops free apps? Mostly non professional developers. Those that do it for fun. That build stupid apps. Those that get downloaded by millions of users... Even if they are stupid. But free. And drive the rest of the market.

Do you think non professional developers will be able to pay $2 per user per month to Tmobile??? I do not think so. What will they do? They will not post their apps.

There will not be free apps that use the network on T-Mobile. Developers won't be attracted by the Dev program. End user adoption will be limited. Game over. Failure guaranteed. Everyone on Apple App Store or Google Marketplace. Too bad.