updated 11:45 am EDT, Thu September 11, 2008
T-Mobile App Store Details
T-Mobile's previously rumored self-run app store has been confirmed by the company at the CTIA expo but will be significantly more limited than either previous estimates or versus similar stores from Apple and Google. Company mobile product development chief Venetia Espinoza and devPartner Community Program head marketer Sue Schmitz explain that the software will initially rule out Android and Sidekick phones in a bid to simplify the rollout and see what works.
"This is for us to learn and for developers to learn," Schmitz says. "These are baby steps."
The carrier also plans to shift the balance more in favor of its own discretion than for developers. Free apps will be limited; unlike the iPhone's App Store or the Android Market, no-charge apps will be barred from offering advertising to subsidize their costs and will also be restricted from offering streaming or other bandwidth-heavy services, including radio or TV channels. Neither Espinoza nor Schmitz has explained the reasons behind the moves, although the decisions would encourage more developers to charge for their apps and so give T-Mobile more revenue.
App programmers also won't have access to a programming interface that grants access to the camera or other deep hardware and software features, although this is expected to gradually change. Advertising rules may also change later, the carrier notes.
Revenue for developers is potentially smaller, T-Mobile adds. The provider has opted against a fixed revenue sharing system and will instead hand more of its share to developers depending on their level of cooperation. A default revenue split is limited to just 50-50 but can increase to as much as 70-30 in favor of creators if they either guarantee customer support through e-mail and phone or else write code that will work on at least 10 T-Mobile phones, two of which must be the most popular at a given time. Apple requires an e-mail contact for support but otherwise fixes its own cut of App Store sales at 30 percent, leaving the rest to developers.
Companies nonetheless aren't required to use the app store and can pursue other deals through T-Mobile if they believe they can get better terms.
T-Mobile's app store is due before the end of the year and marks a steady shift away from third-party stores such as those from Handango, which aren't always preloaded on phones by carriers and which often set terms that increase the revenue share for the store operator as the number of copies sold rise; these stores often also discourage or decline to offset the cost of posting free apps.