GetJar bans Opera Mini over app store rivalry

Independent application store GetJar has banned one of the most popular apps it offers – the Opera Mini mobile browser – because of Opera’s decision to launch its own app store. In a letter expressing regret to its developer community, GetJar described the app as one of its “longtime favourites”, saying it had been downloaded from the store 30 million times. The firm said that it had been in negotiation with Opera for some time in a bid to avoid having to exclude the browser application.

Opera launched its Opera Mobile Store on March 8, having developed it in partnership with white label app store player Appia. “The launch of the Opera Mobile Store supports Opera’s core belief in an open, cross-platform mobile Internet experience by providing Opera users with an integrated storefront of mobile applications,” said Mahi de Silva, EVP, Consumer Mobile, Opera Software. “Our partnership with Appia delivers to all Opera Mobile and Opera Mini users easy access to a wide variety of great content, on any device, all over the world.”

This was too much for Getjar, which proceeded to implement the ban. “Although we don’t have any issue with this in principle,” the firm said of Opera’s move, “in practice it means that consumers might start using this app store instead of visiting GetJar to get their favourite apps.”

Quite how the practice differs from the principle isn’t clear, and yet GetJar was at pains to stress that it welcomes competition. “We’re happy to go head to head with any other app store,” the firm said, explaining its decision to ban Opera Mini because it: “robs GetJar of traffic and therefore of the advertising necessary to keep our service free for the more than 25 million consumers that use GetJar.”

But the fact that all applications available from GetJar are free, has led some observers to question the sense of its decision to ban Opera for launching a store that offers paid-for applications.

“Why would a freemium app store GetJar ban Opera coz of its new premium app store? GetJar’s users aren’t people who would download paid apps,” tweeted Simon Buckingham, CEO of another independent app store, Appitalism.

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There were bonus benefits for lesser known mobile browsers as GetJar recommended alternatives to Opera’s product. Bitstream Bold, Squace and UC Web Browser all enjoyed a moment’s promotion. How long this will last remains to be seen, with GetJar saying it hopes to resolve the dispute with Opera in the future. The reactions of other app stores that feature Opera will be interesting to watch.

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