Why S60 does not need an apps store

In phones on November 28, 2008 at 5:33 pm

Let’s face it, app stores for mobiles are all the rave now. Ever since the underground iphone hackers group introduced users to the age old linux method of sticking packages in a common repository, everyone and their cat think it’s the coolest thing since sliced bread. Infact, I was struck by how many tmobile G1 reviews made it a point to mention the sparse app store after the phone officially launched. Eh, sounds like a case of the fuzzies where the jphone is concerned, considering the iphone didn’t launch with an app store.

Before I get too off topic. let’s take a look at why nokia and or symbian will most likely not be jumping on the app store wagon anytime soon. I’m convinced that our favorite Finnish company will not be offering an app store in the near future because, well, they already have one. Anyone that has used an S60 device has probably come across the Download! app. So, the app is a sorry excuse for an app store, what with the nearly useless selection and the slow updates. However, within the Download! application is buried an interface to shop handango as well as other stores that sell S60 apps/games.

The apps don’t just display a mobile version of the respective site, rather they contain all the necessary features that will enable a user to purchase the software directly from their phone. Essentially, they operate the same way the iphone and android app stores do, except none of them are controlled by nokia or symbian.  Users want convenience. If they can access most available software from one or two locations, they won’t want to go anywhere else. Handango is one of the (if not THE) largest software distributor for mobile phones right now because of that.

It makes little sense for nokia to spend money on developing the software as well as all the backend stuff for a service that’s already offered by several companies. It makes sense for apple and google to offer app stores because their mobile operating systems were still in their infancy. Launching android with an app store means that 3rd party software distributors will not take to offering android apps. With the no 3rd party native software model adopted by apple when they released the iphone, there were no official native 3rd party apps for the phone until the app store was announced. With the timing of the app stores for these two young operating systems, most of the software created for them will aggregate on the respective app store.

On the other hand, other smart phone OSes are mature and entrenched enough to have millions of apps already developed over their lifetimes and distributed in a myriad of ways. If microsoft, rim, nokia or palm were to release their own app store, they would be contenders in an already saturated market. Of course, if all smart phone manufacturers came up with their own app stores, the highly profitable field of mobile software sales would be wiped off the radar. We probably don’t want that either.

As much as I would love to have the equivalent of the linux package manager on my phone, I won’t be holding my breath.


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