Mobile app stores losing consumer trust: Developer

Trust, ease-of-use and reliability moving business to buy 'directly from the carriers'

Mobile phone applications purchased through phone carriers are more popular than those bought from app stores, a local app developer has claimed.

Chief executive of Sydney-based Viva La Mobile, Jamie Conyngham, told Computerworld Australia the popularity of app stores had decreased as consumers were looking to buy apps directly from phone carriers.

“People still like to buy directly from the carriers despite all of the press about people going to app stores,” he said. “We find people are buying from carriers still because it goes straight to their phone bill and [because of the] trust [people have in] the carrier brand.”

As well as being a more trusted option, Conyngham said phone carriers are making the purchase of mobile-based applications easier for the general community, and said Optus’ partner connect was an example of a streamlined mobile app distribution method.

“It’s basically... removed the bottleneck which all carriers around the world have,” he said. “Optus, and a few other carriers, have basically removed that and gone down the other path of having a more free app store environment.”

Conyngham said Viva La Mobile uses the Optus program in a move that has made accessing mobile apps simpler.

“It streamlined the launching process,” he said. “What that means for us is we can… work out what works and what doesn’t for a particular carrier and their audience.”

While most smartphone platforms currently utilise an app store which is not directly tied to the carrier, Microsoft's recently launched Windows Phone 7 operating system will allow users to bill purchases of third party apps directly to their phone bill.

IDC mobile analyst, Mark Novosel, said while there are no solid numbers on sales within mobile app stores, his discussions within the industry suggested phone carriers are not the preferred choice.

“The vast majority of apps are being sold through the ‘official’ app stores, such as Apple's App Store, Android Market and Blackberry App World,” he said. “The carriers' app stores would account for a minor portion of overall sales.”

While purchasing apps through a carrier like Optus’ partner connect program may be simpler, Novosel it could cost the end-user more in the long term.

“Users who choose to have apps billed to their mobile account may end up paying more,” he said. “... [this is] because the carriers are adding credit card surcharges to the total bill, so people may unknowingly end up paying more.”

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Tags vivalamobilemobile applicationsIDCapp storeoptusmobile appspartner connect

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