Samsung says its new app store is more about helping its operator partners make money than filling its own coffers.
Donjoo Lee, senior VP of sales and marketing for the mobile comms division of Samsung’s digital media and communications business, admits developing an app storefront hasn’t been easy. The electronics specialist had to send out for plenty of apps and content specialists to put it together.
Lee says the app store is “essential” for mobile players today. “We’re entering an era where apps and services must be converged around the mobile.”
But Samsung sees its Application Store – which launched last month with 300 Windows Mobile and Symbian apps – as an enabler for operators, rather than Samsung, to make money.
“We can install our app store within the operator’s storefront in a shop-in-shop arrangement, or if it’s a small operator that doesn’t have its own app store or the resources to develop one, we can provide our app store platform to them on a white-label basis so they can put their name on it,” Lee said.
“So we will support the operator to make more revenue from their application business, but it’s not something we’re doing to make more revenue for ourselves on a standalone basis.”
So far, no operator has adopted the Samsung app store platform, although Lee says the company has held talks with a number of carriers.
The handset-maker plans for the Application Store to expand from the UK, France and Italy to 13 markets (including Hong Kong) by Q1 next year, by which time it will also sport apps for Android and LiMo, as well as SHP, Samsung’s proprietary handset OS.
The most difficult part of developing the app store platform, he said, was doing the legwork to not only meet operators one by one, but also develop the billing system for each market.
“In every market, you have different tax issues and payment issues and lots of rules that must be reviewed,” Lee said. “This is really time-consuming and a difficult task. But if you want to offer paid apps, you have no choice.”
Lee admitted Samsung actually entertained the option of skipping paid apps altogether to streamline the process, but decided that consumers and operators would benefit more from having high-quality apps that justified a premium price.
Lee also said user experience was key to any app store strategy – to include the number of apps on offer.
“It’s not important to have a huge number of apps,” he said. “Apple has 80,000 apps, but as an end user, can you search through 80,000 apps to find an app you want? It’s impossible. So 300 to 500 meaningful apps is enough for the end users to get started.”
John C Tanner