What Do Telecom Operators Want? [A Look At App Platform Strategy]

Recently, IDC published a white paper on the App strategy of Mobile operators and while the report doesn’t get into the real depth of what operators really want (apart from increasing ARPU), it does throw some interesting insight and a good summary of operators’ role in the new app world.

Operator Model

  • Store within a store. This is a carrier-branded store, which contains other stores within it such as RIM and Microsoft.
  • Coexisting side-by-side stores. This is typical with Android Marketplace, where the operator brands its own store but also supports Android Marketplace.
  • A joint service model. This means that an operator handles the retail operations of billing, customer service, and marketing, while the application store such as Nokia Ovi does the wholesale aspects of content aggregation, developer relationships, certifying, testing, and so forth.
  • Virtual preloaded operator apps. In this model, the operator works with the open OS platforms such as Android, Microsoft Windows for Mobile, RIM, and Ovi and preloads the operator-branded application infrastructure.

Most Popular App Platform


Android tops the chart, followed by RIM/Blackberry App world.

What’s interesting is that 26% of the interviewed operators expressed interest in migrating from their proprietary platform to that of a partner – essentially this means that operators are now realizing the need to open up and partner with other app platform, in order to scale their app offering.

Also, operators in emerging markets were more open to partner as opposed to the ones in developed world.

Preferred Business Model

"Revenue share" was identified as the most preferred model by 85% of the interviewed operators. Capex and fee/subscriber were the other two preferred models (15%).

Also, depending on how big an operator is (i.e. number of subscribers), they have different pain points when it comes to defining a strategy for app stores.

  • Smaller operators view enhanced customer experience as a top objective of their application store; larger operators focus the application store strategy on reduced customer churn rate.
  • Smaller operators depend on local, vernacular content as one of the primary drivers for application store success.
  • Larger operators, which focus on reducing churn and increasing customer acquisitions, identify quality and relevance of applications as the differentiation success factor.
  • Large operators, which are already farther along with implementation of their application store strategy, are more willing to work with partners.
  • Providing an integrated three-screen experience across mobile devices, PCs, and TV sets is a critical point of differentiation for many of the world’s integrated operators.

What’s your take?

[Download the report from here.]

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